Friday, May 10, 2013

Details details

I have some fun links for later in the day, but looking at the news this morning I wanted to ponder something that's truly bugging me.

I've been reading about the "happy they were found but horrible it happened" situation in Cleveland (if you don't know what I'm talking about, try here, but not if you don't want your day wrecked).  When I first read about it, I was horrified, as I think most people were.  At the time the story broke, I took a look in the comments section, and I was really surprised to see how many people latched on to wildly speculative details that have turned out to be incorrect.  

Why do people still do this?

In the age of the internet every major story that breaks suddenly has severe factual inaccuracies reported in the first 24-48 hours.  It happens over and over again, and yet there are still people dedicating time and keyboard space to long screeds about whatever unconfirmed detail they think is relevant.  

Is it really so hard to just say "that's awful" for the first 2 days until the facts start coming in?  


  1. It's hard to distinguish 24-hour-a-day news service from a gossip ring or rumor mill.

    At least, in terms of how all participants behave. Whether the presenters or the online commentors.

  2. In the Boston Bombing and the Ct. Newtown spree shooting/suicide, I saw many posts from blog-writers I respect that were on the order of "If X, as has been reported, is really the case, then this implies Y".
    I don't think we can logically expect people to remain a tabula-rosa until such a time as we think most details are in and correct, especially for those who are activists in some area that turns our to be related to the event.

    1. I don't know...I think maybe my 48 hour limit might be a bit much, but surely 24 hours could be reserved just for grief.

      OTOH, I think some of this depends on how likely the details are to be correct. The comments that sparked this post in particular were people reacting to the Cleveland kidnapping case with rants about illegal immigration. It quite quickly got cleared up that Ariel Castro was not, in fact, an illegal immigrant...and it made those people look pretty bad.

      In something like Newtown, if your reaction had something to do with guns, well, I can see that. It was really unlikely we were going to find out that he actually used a crossbow.