by Chris Bodenner
A reader writes:
Twitter was an invaluable resource during yesterday's hostage crisis at 1 Discovery Place. We in the building, and our co-workers all around (it began during the lunch hour) as well as our co-workers worldwide were communicating by text, tweet, and e-mail. And after the evacuation, I relied on Twitter as much as our local news media did, in order to watch the conclusion of the event.
But not all tweeted facts are real facts. The photo you reprinted is not the gunman, but rather a plainclothes officer, one of the very first to respond to the scene. I watched him approaching the lobby from my floor, where many of us watched his approach, as well as the approach of many other uniformed and plainclothes officers, from our windows. By the time this photo was taken (the officer with the rifle is shown walking along the long leg of the "L" that is the building; the lobby where the incident took place is on the end of the short leg), the gunman was already stuck in the lobby.
Please feel free to post my comments, but leave my name off (I'm including it only so you know that I'm for real); we are not authorized to talk to any media outlet, including blogs.
The photo I reprinted was taken from the embedded link in the WaPo piece, which reads:
Within minutes, there were photos, including an astonishing one of a man clad in shorts, carrying a rifle and stalking through what looked like an office courtyard.
No other information was provided about the identity of the man, and the context surrounding the sentence suggested that he was the gunman. But clearly he wasn't, based on our reader's firsthand account. In fact, the caption supplied by the linked-to source reads, "pic my colleague sent of the discovery discovery gunman." So the photo came from a secondhand source to begin with.
Sounds like another win for the blogosphere over the mainstream press. And particularly ironic given the WaPo's closing paragraph:
But as rich as Wednesday's Twitter feed was, it was merely a starting point for reporters. "The initial information may have come to us through these tools, but we have to apply the old-media skills of vetting and serving as a filter" for what's accurate, said Allan Horlick, president and general manager of WUSA-TV. "We can't let raw info to go out over air. The front end is new, but we still have to do our work on the back end."
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