February 16, 2018

This morning we're catching you up on some of the developments in the Florida school shooting, but be sure to scroll down for a link to what's sure to be the story of the day: Ronan Farrow's new piece for the New Yorker.

A new form of maliciousness on Twitter

Alex Harris is a reporter for the Miami Herald. On Tuesday, she was reaching out to survivors of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, through Twitter. She showed empathy, asked whether they were safe, then asked if they'd be willing to follow back to DM about what they know.

At some point in the afternoon, two imposter tweets started circulating. In one, Harris was showing tweeting for "pictures or video of the dead bodies." In another, she wanted a follow-up from a source only if the shooter was white. Daniel Funke wrote about how it all played out yesterday.

Misinformation during breaking news is nothing new, unfortunately. At least since the Bataclan shootings in Paris, the denouement on social media is tragically familiar. But this type of anti-media narrative specifically targeting a local reporter trying to uncover the truth seems new.

According to BuzzFeed reporter Jane Lytvynenko, Twitter’s CEO was “investigating,” but another spokesperson pointed to guidance saying Twitter doesn’t have a responsibility to ferret out the truth.

This issue also touches on delicate questions about gathering eyewitness evidence on social media. We'll be monitoring the story.

Related: Poynter's best practices for reporting through social media during a mass shooting.

Other notable things we saw about the shooting

GETTING OUT OF THE WAY: CNN’s Michelle Krupa and Gianluca Mezzofiore could have written a striking story about a girl, in her high school Holocaust Studies class, seeing a classmate get shot and hunkering down under her teacher’s desk. But they didn’t. After a brief introduction, the two reporters and editors Saaed Ahmed and Christine Kline let texts tell the story — the 77 chilling texts between that student, Hannah Carbocci, 17, and her 19-year-old sister, Kaitin. Wow.

SHE’S 23 AND HAS COVERED 3 MASS SHOOTINGS: Lulu Ramadan is a breaking-news reporter at the Palm Beach Post. In her short career, she’s covered the Pulse nightclub shooting, the Fort Lauderdale Airport shooting, and now the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting. She talked with the New Yorker’s Charles Bethea: “You get the same responses every time from everyone. The victims say, ‘We never thought it could happen to us.’ The politicians say, ‘We’re offering our prayers, and this was an act of evil, and we do not tolerate this.’ From the police, ‘We’re going to increase our patrols.’ It’s an echo chamber every time.”

18 SHOOTINGS? FLAT WRONG: The Washington Post took note of a number going around the internet (and mentioned in this newsletter) that there had been 18 school shootings since Jan. 1. John Woodrow Cox and Steven Rich analyzed the shootings statistic that they say originated with Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit group co-founded by Michael Bloomberg. They write: “Everytown has long inflated its total by including incidents of gunfire that are not really school shootings. Take, for example, what it counted as the year’s first: On the afternoon of Jan. 3, a 31-year-old man who had parked outside a Michigan elementary school called police to say he was armed and suicidal. Several hours later, he killed himself. The school, however, had been closed for seven months. There were no teachers. There were no students.”

A LONG-AGO VALENTINE'S DAY MASSACRE: Poynter's Al Tompkins provides a history lesson about gun control efforts by going back to 1929 and Chicago's gang wars. It's a great primer on how the country's gun laws came to their current state.

INSIDE REPORTING: David Hogg, a student at the Parkland, Florida, school, conducted a short video interview with some of his classmates as they huddled in a classroom.

A GRAPHIC YOU CAN’T TURN AWAY FROM: The Washington Post created a graphic that represents the 1,077 people killed in mass shootings since a gunman climbed atop the University of Texas tower in 1966 and killed 17 people. By clicking on a figure depicted in the graphic, you can read about the victim and about the shooting where they died. Sobering and heartbreaking doesn’t even begin to describe the emotions it evokes.

TIMELY: The HuffPost obtained autopsies of each of the 58 victims killed in the Las Vegas shooting and described with clinical and chilling detail what happens when a high-velocity bullet hits a human being. Nick Wing and Matt Ferner write: “With bullets exiting the shooter’s weapons at a velocity of about 3,000 feet per second ― about three times as fast as a bullet fired out of a handgun ― and spinning at thousands of revolutions per second, the consequences for anyone hit directly were dire.” The authors note that most media coverage shies away from this type of detail, leaving readers with a sanitized version of events.


A screen grab of the New Yorker story out this morning.


Ronan Farrow's latest

It’s out this morning at The New Yorker, and it’s bound to be rocketing around the internet and into the White House with lightning speed. Like the Wall Street Journal in a similar story before him, Farrow details an affair that President Donald Trump had in 2006. This one was with a former Playboy Playmate named Karen McDougal. Farrow’s piece includes salacious details from an eight-page handwritten account of the affair that McDougal confirmed was hers. The story goes on to describe the role American Media Inc., publisher of the National Enquirer, played in keeping her account out of the media. Farrow's reporting helped lead to Harvey Weinstein's moment of reckoning. Could this story, with its plethora of seamy details, do the same with Trump?

Quick hits

MOVING UP: Two journalists best known for their reporting on the award-winning “Planet Money” podcast will be joining NPR’s two most popular and established programs. Ailsa Chang will be a co-host of "All Things Considered," replacing the just-retired Robert Siegel; and Noel King will be a co-host of "Morning Edition" and the Up First podcast.

Chang and King’s promotions followed another podcast-to-broadcast story this week: American Public Radio’s distribution of the popular New York Times podcast The Daily.

King, in an interview with Poynter’s David Beard, referenced this trend — but with a twist. “By putting Ailsa and me into host roles, NPR is telegraphing something that many of us believe: broadcast and podcasting each have a lot to learn from the other,” she said.

Catch the full interview with King and Chang, but first, here are a few stories you may need to know this Friday:
ALL THE HATERS: The complaints pile up before the New York Times editorial section. Why publish a discredited gun researcher? A climate change denier? Why almost kinda hire someone who said she was friends with neo-Nazis? James Bennet says he knows why some readers and co-workers are angry. In a 1,500-word memo for staff, which The Post’s Erik Wemple called a “belletristic opus,” the NYT’s editorial page editor says some people don’t want to have their views challenged. Bennet also, reports the HuffPost’s Ashley Feinberg, hopes his NYT colleagues will express their disagreements privately.  
THE PICTURE TRUMP DOESN’T WANT YOU TO SEE: For nearly a year, reporters have been asking the White House for photos of the president signing House Joint Bill 40. That NRA-backed bill would have kept 75,000 Americans who were determined to be mentally deficient from buying a gun. The photos of the Trump signing exist; the White House has refused to release them. A reporter’s plea on Thursday went unanswered. The presidency is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
WAS FCC CHIEF IN THE TANK FOR SINCLAIR? Democrats have asked for documents of meetings between Ajit Pai and Sinclair lobbyists and the White House. Pai endorsed the bill, which made it easier for companies like Sinclair to buy more stations. “A few weeks later,” the NYT’s Cecilia Kang writes, “Sinclair Broadcasting announced a blockbuster $3.9 billion deal to buy Tribune Media — a deal those new rules made possible.”
TO LINK OR NOT TO LINK? A judge rules news publishers violated copyright by embedding tweets of a Tom Brady photograph. Among publishers originally sued: Breitbart, Time Inc., Yahoo, Vox Media, Gannett Company, Herald Media and the Boston Globe.

New on poynter.org

  • In Ireland, an anti-abortion campaign claimed a fact-checker verified their ad. It didn't, reports Daniel Funke.
  • We've kicked off some conversations about photojournalism on our site, and this one with Berford Gammon, the director of photography at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, aimed right for the heart of it: "It’s content. We can do a lot more than just decorate the top of stories."

That’s it for now, but check in for more media news during the day at Poynter.org.

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