Someone on Twitter tweltered a link to a blog by someone apologising for twolving a tweet saying that Nelson Mandela had passed. It’s a blog explaining how it happened that he came to the place where putting his tweet out there seemed like an OK thing to do and apologising for doing it.
I’m torn (slightly) here. People do make mistakes. I don’t think he needs to be put in prison or anything. But he’s a journalist – supposedly. And he has a couple of sources on things like voicemails. Wouldn’t you look for some verification? This is what he actually wrote:
“Nelson Mandela’s passing will be announced at a press conference just after 7pm tonight. Good source. #madiba #rip.”
That’s a statement. That’s not saying he’s uncertain about it – or he’s heard a rumour. There are no modals in there – it’s just a statement. He’s not checked it clearly. And lets be clear here when we look at what he’s talking about. He’s NOT writing that it’s going to be announced that Wayne Rooney has signed for Chelsea (#wazza #chelski). He’s saying that one of the most important political leaders of recent times has died. (1) The man is a journalist (2) He doesn’t suggest it is a rumour, merely an unconfirmed fact (3) Nelson Mandela was not dead.
Do a lot of people do rumour mongering? Yes. Should it make a difference if you are a professional journalist? Well, yes. Certainly if you don’t want massive amounts of shit for getting something wrong.
Consciously or not it’s just a pissing contest… and a pissing contest about someone’s death. It can all fuck off for me, journalists outside courts describing the make-up of the father of murder victims; breath-by-breath coverage of a the family row’s supposedly happening over Mandela’s estate. Fuck off trying to make a thing out of someone walking in a hospital. Stop taking pictures of people doing it or judging people for when they laugh.
Just fuck off.