Twitter, journalism and ethics

Let’s just get this out of the way:

Never send a ‘tweet’ while attending a funeral. It’s just plain disrespectful.

From Boston Phoenix:

Some background: on September 4, Francis Hernandez, a 23-year-old illegal immigrant from Guatemala, broadsided a truck in Aurora, Colorado. The truck and Hernandez’s vehicle then careened into a Baskin-Robbins, killing the truck’s two occupants and Kudlis, who was in the ice-cream store with his mother. The tragedy quickly became fodder for anti-illegal-immigrant activists, such as former Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo, who accused Colorado’s Democratic governor and Denver’s mayor of having “blood on their hands.” (Hernandez had been arrested for traffic violations in the past but had never been reported to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a federal agency that could have had him deported.)

Rocky Mountain News reporter Berny Morson used Twitter, a microblogging tool, to report live from Kudlis’ funeral. And here are some of his tweets:

people again are sobbing. rabbi again asks god to givemarten everlasting
life.09:46 AM September 10, 2008 from txt

pallbearers carry out coffin followed by mourners.09:48 AM September 10,
2008 from txt

cars queueing up to follow hearse09:59 AM September 10, 2008 from

procession begins10:01 AM September 10, 2008 from txt

people gathering at graveside10:14 AM September 10, 2008 from txt

coffin lowered into ground10:18 AM September 10, 2008 from txt

With the advent of new media contributing to the demise of print journalism, reporters are looking for new ways to tell their stories, while staying competitive in the news game. Social networking tools like Twitter and others are great because they put all media outlets, no matter how big or small, on the small level playing field. But sometimes common sense is let go just because an editor wants to be the first one to get a story.

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