New York Times Magazine has an article out this week by Jay Caspian Kang that should probably devastate a few journalists we all know—or at the very least, make them think long and hard about themselves.
You know this story. It’s about how, in the information void after the Boston bombings a bunch of internet sleuths took to Reddit and fingered an innocent kid—Sunil Tripathi—as Suspect No. 2. What you might not know much about is how a few journalists on Twitter fueled the fire by taking Reddit’s accusation and building a bridge from “take this with a grain of salt” to “absolutely credible.”
Whether it was a desire to be first or just part of a really big story, whether it was a lack of experience or training or oversight or naivete or some combination of all of these, these few journalists took absolutely unverified bits of information from Twitter posts and republished them as facts without, at least according to NYT Mag, barely even a second’s thought.