I initially blogged that we had an incident at my school. Although we avoided media coverage on the event, we have made up for it in the aftermath. The story has been picked up by several news outlets (Yea, it must be a slow news week). A couple things bother me about the situation. The investigation by the main media outlets has been incredibly sloppy. I guess that is what I am supposed to say, but I really have nothing to lose either way. I get the feeling that the story is not being investigated or that they are relying on teens as credible news sources. Yes, they did send a news truck down to our location but it stops there. You think the news station could at least get the “where?” right. They had to drive to the location. It is pretty bad when some of the teens at our school go on the counterattack pointing out factual errors in the story on a station’s Facebook site.
What the story amounts to is that people are upset with the consequences of their actions. I believe I remember this from my journalism classes, if a coach loses a game, you shouldn’t ask him how he feels. You already know the answer to that one. You should ask a better question. Find out something that people don’t already know. Do a little investigating!
The second thing that bothers me about the incident is that people do not understand that social media is public entirely for the most part. A simple hashtag search will reveal tons of information. Examples of the information that can be found are your twitter name, your old posts, and other hashtags in which to investigate. It doesn’t take but a few minutes to find a whole chain of events from the initial pride in one’s actions to the remorse after they have faced the penalty. This shouldn’t be a shock. From what I am hearing, you would think a team of hackers was working full time to investigate all things social. NO! They are wrong. Curious minds want to know. If you leave enough information out there someone will find it.
A few years ago, I heard Al Tompkins speak from the Poynter Institute. He showed us a whole bag of tricks in which to investigate stories. I don’t normally investigate stories or write them but the information he shared is invaluable when doing research. I would highly recommend attending one of their training events, especially if you are a local journalist in a major market and you are getting your lunch thrown at you by high school students.