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Published on April 22nd, 2013 | by Luis Cavalcanti

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The Hilarity of Media Smugness

After a week of constantly mis-reporting events during the Boston marathon Bombing, the media has taken the mature position and turned the mirror on itself, looking self-critically at its own moral obligations to report what is true and accurate…

NOT!

Since the capture of the second subject, I have seen more articles than I can count discussing the dangers of internet rumors, speaking specifically of the participation Redditors and their role in misidentifying suspects [1][2], etc.

Now, we can discuss the incredible rabbit hole of internet sleuthery, especially in the face of a bunch of people just having done it to no avail. But let’s look at the actual fallout. No one was hurt, some people were mis-identified, and they were very quickly cleared.

Look at how it works when the FBI declares who the suspects are. In the Atlanta bombing, the FBI came out, announced a suspect, and then began a manhunt for a man who was not guilty. His life was ruined, the media took the FBI’s accusation with an air of credibility that forced them to throw out all scruples. The same thing happened with regard to the suspects themselves in this case. No one questioned whether the FBI had the right guys. They probably had exactly the right guys, but even after Atlanta, or multiple times proving their incompetencies, no one questioned it. These men haven’t been to trial, they haven’t been declared guilty. If it had turned out that the two men the FBI told us were the bombers had not been, their lives would actually have been ruined. They would have risked life and limb trying to not get arrested.

At least in the case of internet sleuths, everything was regarded as speculation. The media can report whatever they want. Reddit, 4Chan and the like are not responsible for the irresponsible reporting of news agencies like CNN, the New York Post, FOX, NBC or anywhere else. Reddit is a public forum where anyone can post. People posting on Reddit do not have the obligation to be correct. It’s probably a better idea to post accurate facts rather than inaccurate speculation. But it’s the media’s job to sort through the hype and decide what to and what not to report.

So go ahead, try to impose some rules on the vigilante Reddit detectives. Maybe the media will be better at regulating 16 and 17 year olds who are most skilled at putting funny phrases written in Impact font on cute pictures of cats than they are at regulating themselves. Way to go Atlantic writers, way to go CNN, NBC, and everyone else pointing the finger at Redditors. Maybe you should look at your own kind for a while.

I leave you with a video of Wolf Blitzer playing celebrity jeopardy.


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Luis Cavalcanti



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