Breaking news is never pretty — anyone who hungers for facts and speed during a story as fluid as Monday’s shootings in Washington, D.C., is asking for a lot. Still, there were some notable screwups today, like…
• Identifying suspect without official confirmation
NBC and CBS retracted reports identifying the shooter as Rollie Chance. By that time, online detectives had found Chance’s LinkedIn page and a photo that purports to be him.
Shooter’s name is Rollie Chance. Found a picture of him: http://t.co/GMNsbdZfpe
— tas (@13monsters) September 16, 2013
NBC News was more careful later:
.@PeteWilliamsNBC also reporting that law enforcement has a potential name of the suspect; being vetted now to triple check, obviously
— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) September 16, 2013
• Reporting numbers
The Washington Post reported three shooters, then revised the number to two. At a press conference Monday afternoon, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said one suspect was dead and police were looking for two more.
‘No hard evidence, at this point, that there was more than one shooter’ – @PeteWilliamsNBC
— NBC Nightly News (@nbcnightlynews) September 16, 2013
• Describing shooter’s race
The Drudge Report, for some reason, picked up on a description of one of the shooters being bald and black. Lanier described one of the missing suspects as white, the other as black.
The white male, D.C. police later said, is not a suspect.
The white male in the tan outfit has been identified and is not a suspect or person of interest.
— DC Police Department (@DCPoliceDept) September 16, 2013
• Quoting police scanners
Seriously, don’t do it.
— Matthew Keys (@MatthewKeysLive) September 16, 2013
Related: Navy Shooting Coverage Feels Depressingly Familiar (HuffPost)