"Is he dead or alive?" "It doesn't matter - run it anyway"
Early Thursday, Oct. 20, news broke that former Libyan leader, Moammar Gadhafi had been captured - and it broke first through social media. The most shocking element of the coverage wasn't Gadhafi's death though - it was the widespread release of unconfirmed reports.
Early Thursday, news broke that former Libyan leader, Moammar Gadhafi had been captured; and it rapidly flooded Twitter timelines across the world.Worldwide trending topics as of 8:00 a.m. Thursday morning included #Gadhafi, Libyan TV, Sirte (the Libyan city where Gadhafi was reportedly captured), and Abel Majid (the National Transitional Council official who reported Gadhafi was injured to Reuters).
- The breaking news drew attention from across the globe, in the form of tweets in a variety of languages.
- The strangest part of it all? Gadhafi's status was not confirmed before the story broke.
@Poynter reminded reporters of traditional journalism values; such as making sure viewers, listeners, and readers understood what was true and what was still unconfirmed.
- Released reports each said something different - some outlets said the dictator was captured, some said shot, and others said dead. The seemingly contradicting stories left media watchers confused on what to believe.
@Reuters confirmed Gadhafi's death early on from only one source. By midmorning, several news organizations had the story leading their broadcasts - but it was still unconfirmed.
One major news organization failed to weigh in on the Gadhafi deaths - The New York Times minimally updated their twitter feed over the course of the morning, as shown in this article from the Columbian Journalism Review.
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