Baltimore Sun crime reporter Justin Fenton (@justin_fenton) did a great job tweeting from the scene of today’s murder-suicide at John Hopkins, mixing observations with facts and photos. A few tweets passed along unconfirmed information from the police scanner:
These scanner developments turned out to be true — including that a doctor was shot — and Fenton by extension appears to be the first to to break the news. (Interestingly, Baltimore Police released wrong information to the media twice.) In all cases, Fenton attributed scanner reports to the scanner, and in most, he added the word “unconfirmed.”
Under the circumstances, I think this was an appropriate use of Twitter, and Fenton did a great job couching unconfirmed updates. But online news sites typically avoid scanner reports, so I’ll ask, did he do the right thing? Should journalists tweet updates from the scanner during breaking news stories (especially when it’s obvious it’s not a drill)?