Bloggers often take heat for posting incorrect, misleading, or false information. The need to get something out there early is intense because it can be the difference between getting a lot of traffic and not getting any at all. However, there are times when journalistic responsibility must trump the need for page views. This is one of those times.
Buzzfeed, Gawker, Fox News, Huffington Post, Slate – all have a certain level of credibility and a lot of traffic coming to their sites. To post the name, image, and Facebook page of an innocent person and claim that they are possibly a mass murder is unforgivable. The damage they’ve done to this young man’s life in miniscule compared to the damage done by the shooter, but it’s not something that should be dismissed, either.
The lines have been blurred in recent years between mainstream media and blogs. To me, it comes down to traffic – if you have a high-volume website that attracts a large number of people who are looking for news, then you are part of mainstream media regardless of whether you call yourself a blog or not. You have a responsibility regardless of your traffic to be sure that what you post will not do harm to those who do not deserve it. It’s easy to say from my perspective – I refuse to post anything that I’m not completely certain about. I only wish the “big boys” had the same rules in place.