Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Public Should Be Careful before Canonizing Social Media; FERGUSON POLICE SHOOTING

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Public Should Be Careful before Canonizing Social Media; FERGUSON POLICE SHOOTING

Article excerpt

Tuesday night after watching the Cardinals ballgame, I picked up my cellphone. Like hordes of others that night, I began combing through my Twitter timeline to see what was going on in Ferguson.

I had it on an open feed, not limiting it just to reporters and people I knew, but to anyone. You know, news, snark, puns, pics of free-range food and the like.

Then I found a posting in which a person I follow, and who follows me, posted the name and photos of a Ferguson police officer. He wrote that "word on the street" said this was the cop who shot Michael Brown.

I'm fully aware that the trendy line of thought is trumpeting social media as the greatest thing for journalism since movable type.

But I get a queasy feeling that instead of being journalism's best friend, social media could potentially be its worst enemy, and maybe even its assassin.

Sure, I know those addicted to mainlining live footage are rolling their eyes and pinning dinosaur arms on me. Pigeonhole away, but at least note I was one of the first reporters at the Post- Dispatch to have stories automatically filed onto social media.

Also I know the popular notion about social media, especially Twitter, is that it actually did things during the civil disturbances that had never been done before.

If you say one of those "things" was disseminating information faster and farther than ever, I agree. If you say it did it better than ever, we part ways.

It reminds me of a sign I once saw at a body shop. "We do our work: 1. good, 2. fast, 3. cheap. Pick any two."

The photojournalists who risked possibly life and definitely limb to capture pictures of looters stripping stores and police looking like troops in Iraq still pack a powerful punch, even viewed days later.

The many stories from reporters fighting to get both sides of the Ferguson story are what eventually form our history. …

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