A Massachusetts police photographer upset with the glamorization of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover of the current edition of Rolling Stone released behind the scenes images of the Boston Marathon bombing investigation and arrest of the suspect.
Photography is very simple, it’s very basic. It brings us back to the cave. An image like this on the cover of Rolling Stone, we see it instantly as being wrong. What Rolling Stone did was wrong. This guy is evil. This is the real Boston bomber. Not someone fluffed and buffed for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.
According to the BBC, the photo release was unauthorized and Murphy is currently under investigation. John Wolfson, the author of the Boston Magazine article that displays the photos, tweeted that Murphy has been “relieved of duty.”
Image: A sniper trains his gun on Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. One of a series of photographs released by Sean Murphy to Boston Magazine. Select to embiggen.
Over the last two weeks I set out to read every article written about errors, misinformation, verification and accuracy in the wake of the Boston bombing media coverage. What follows are a few thoughts and almost 40 links, organized thematically, to some of the best articles on these themes.
A lot is happening in Boston, just like a lot has happened in past months, including a lot of hype on the news, a lot of confusion, and the spread of quite some misinformation.
But eventually, the chase ends, the investigations close, the who, what, where, when, and how get answered, and the why gets speculated over until everyone agrees on a narrative that can help us digest the horror. The journey involves a lot of hype, and lot of (digital and analog) talk around the coffee-machine, Facebook feeds and Twitter channels. Some people end up very hurt, some people cynical, some people apathetic, some people clueless, some people motivated to help however they can.
So what can we take away from events like today in Boston? We can think about how we read about it. And in the era of everyone having a voice and a blog and the power to create content, it might help to think a little bit like a journalist.
Here’s our two-step process for following breaking news, keeping the drama to a minimum, and finding voices who know what they are talking about:
1. Pick a place to get a regularly updated version of the big picture.
If you don’t have cable or choose to stay online instead of on TV, you can watch CNN’s livestream here. Or, if you’re not at your computer and not in front of a TV but still want to listen in there are apps for that. For example, TuneIn Radio is available for the iPhone and iPad and gives you access to local, regional and global radio stations and broadcast network feeds. But keep in mind that they too get their stuff wrong sometimes, and if you’re watching TV (or reading the NY Post) you’re in for a lot of drama.
Examples of places to keep track of the big picture:
2. Get on Twitter for primary sources to supplement that big picture and ask your own questions about it.
It’s the place where news breaks these days and holds a ton of value in the discovery-of-information ecosystem. It’s my first stop, nearly always. But it’s also a space for misinformation to spread incredibly fast so knowing how to use it (and not abuse it) falls into the hands of us—the people on it. Think (like a journalist would) about who’s gonna have the (mostly like correct) valuable information on the situation. This morning we were following people like Reuters’ Anthony De Rosa, The Wall Street Journal’s Liz Heron and the Huffington Post’s Craig Kanalley. Even closer to the action, here’s a public list on Watertown put together by Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan.
But think: Who’s actually there? Follow news organizations for regular updates. Follow them on Twitter or Facebook too. You’ll get linked out to further resources as the events unfold without having to keep up with just one paper’s website up all day.
Google the local publications, namely The Boston Globe and The Boston Herald. Who are the reporters on the story? Who’s the editor? Follow them on Twitter. Follow the police commissioner, the mayor.
Also, did you know you can listen to the police scanner itself? Here’s an app for that. Remember though, if listening to the police scanner you’re listening to people who are trying to figure things out as well. This is information fog. What is said on the scanner is not necessarily fact. It’s first responders trying to understand the situation they’re in. Also remember that there are ethical considerations when listening to a scanner. Just because you hear someone say something doesn’t mean that you should post it to your social network of choice. There are lives on the line in situations like this.
Finally, with so many rumors and posts swirling about, remember that much information will be wrong and a significant part of the entire process is to verify what we hear. To that end, remember that in times like these, some trolls create fake social media accounts. If you really wanna get good at Twitter, Josh Stearns has a a guide on how to verify social media content. — Jihii
I’m sort of thrown off today. it’s hard to be motivated to bring you science when there’s Reality going on.
When something hits us upside the head like the Boston Marathon explosions, we can feel dizzy, disoriented … left swirling in a dust-storm of rapidly beating hearts, furrowed brows, held breath and shaking heads. That’s how I feel, anyway. I’ve been sitting here, repeatedly muttering statements that begin with “What the f…” and simultaneously cheering and cursing the power of social media to communicate painful news. I keep looking through Twitter and blogs, knowing exactly what I’ll see and don’t want to. So powerful, but so unfiltered.
It’s not the first time in the past year that this message from Fred Rogers has been appropriate, and that’s perhaps the ultimate tragedy. But he’s right. Every photo of violence and blood in the streets of Boston that we won’t unsee is full of people running in to help. And if we have to look, that’s what we should focus on.
My thoughts are with Boston.
FJP: Agreed. A very wonderful thought from someone who works on a very wonderful program. Our thoughts are with all those in Boston and all those who have a loved one who traveled there for the marathon. If you’re looking for someone or have information about someone, try Google Person Finder.
Paid and free, side by side: The Boston Globe became the latest news organization to institute an online paywall this week, but it did so in an unprecedented way that should be interesting to watch: The newspaper created a separate paid site,BostonGlobe.com, to run alongside its existing free site, Boston.com. PaidContent has the pertinent details: A single price ($3.99 a week), and Boston.com gets most of the breaking news and sports, while BostonGlobe.com gets most of the newspaper content.
As the Globe told Poynter’s Jeff Sonderman, the two sites were designed with two different types of readers in mind: One who has a deep appreciation for in-depth journalism and likes to read stories start-to-finish, and another who reads news casually and briefly and may be more concerned about entertainment or basic information than journalism per se.
The first thing that caught many people’s attention was new site’s design — simple, clean, and understated. Tech blogger John Gruber gave it a thumbs-up, and news design guru Mario Garcia called it ”probably the most significant new website design in a long time.” The Lab’s Joshua Benton identified the biggest reasons it looks so clean: Far fewer links and ads.
Benton (in the most comprehensive post on the new site) also emphasized a less noticeable but equally important aspect of BostonGlobe.com’s design: It adjusts to fit just about any browser size, which reduces the need for mobile apps, making life easier for programmers and, as j-prof Dan Kennedy noted at the Lab, a way around the cut of app fees required by Apple and others. If the Globe’s people “have figured out a way not to share their hard-earned revenues with gatekeepers such as Apple and Amazon, then they will have truly performed a service for the news business — and for journalism,” Kennedy said.
Of course, the Globe could launch the most brilliantly conceived news site on the web, but it won’t be a success unless enough people pay for it. Poynter’sSonderman (like Kennedy) was skeptical of their ability to do that, though as the Atlantic’s Rebecca Rosen pointed out, the Globe’s plan may be aimed as much at retaining print subscribers as making money off the web. The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple wondered if readers will find enough at BostonGlobe.com that’s not at Boston.com to make the site worth their money.