It’s by now a familiar journalism trope: itemizing some of the inaccurate tweets, Facebook posts and online reports tied to a breaking news event.
In the case of Wednesday night’s Halloween party-related shooting on the USC campus, the trope encompassed an especially egregious Twitter turn. Per an an op ed in The Daily Trojan by managing editor Joey Kaufman:
One journalism student from Annenberg claimed the gunman was located on the third floor of the campus center. This eventually evolved into a rumor that the shooter was on the third floor of the Student Union building, just below the Daily Trojan’s offices. As you might gather, this became slightly unnerving for several DT editors, myself included, and staff members who stayed in the Student Union as part of an effort to finish production for this newspaper’s Thursday print edition, as well as provide updates regarding the shooting.
The reporter’s tweet was later deleted after they apologized, admitting it was “inaccurate.”
Let’s hope the journalism student learned their lesson. Kaufman gives much higher marks to USC’s internal email alert system, praising the school for its first warning 15 minutes into the event and four subsequent overnight updates. Read his full take here.