Posted December 21, 2009 7:30 am by with 20 comments

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While it’s easy for us to predict the decline, and ultimate death of mainstream media, I wonder if we know what we’re letting ourselves in for. Take, for example, the recent incident that involved a Washington D.C. detective and a “tweetup” snowball fight.

Mashable alerted me to the story. With a couple of pics and a video, it’s easy to believe that the cop overreacted and should lose his job:

Now, I’m certainly not bashing Mashable here–they took the social media angle that appealed to their readers–but let’s look at the “citizen journalism” side of this. Viewing the photographs and cell phone video, you might confidently predict that there’s not much the police officer can say to defend his actions.

He pulled a gun on a bunch of kids having a snowball fight!

But, if you take the time to read the Washington Post’s lengthy account of the incident, and you learn that this was, at worse, a misunderstanding and, at best, the correct reaction for a cop being pummeled with snowballs.

Personally, I still believe the cop overreacted–and should face some kind of discipline–but that’s part of my point. I’m a citizen journalist–aka blogger–and I make my living by imparting my subjective views on you, our readers. The Washington Post however, while not able to shake completely the latent bias of its journalists, does a much better job of presenting the facts–and leaving the reader to form their own opinion.

In Radically Transparent, we talk about “professional detractors”–those that are paid to report on your misfortune, yet without any apparent modus operandi–such as journalists. While we may not like what they write about us, we know that we can somewhat trust their structured gathering of information and procedures for correcting any erroneous reporting.

As citizen journalism continues to take the place of professional journalism, I wonder how this will affect reputation management. Are we ready for a world of biased reporting?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

  • Most people don’t do a very good job of protecting their own reputation as evidenced by the increasing level of “stupid human tricks” that the social web has spawned.

    Add to that the ability for everyone to now be a reporter you get into some dicey areas. For instance, I feel pretty confident that there are folks out there figuring out how they can “create a scene”. Once the scene has been created they have the ‘scoop’ on whatever transpires. In other words, figuring out what is real and what is not may become more and more difficult as we ‘progress’.

    We have one foot on a very slippery slope and I don’t feel terribly confident that people will make good decisions especially of doing something or not doing it may take away the opportunity for the new “15 minutes of fame” that the Internet offers.
    .-= Frank Reed´s last blog ..Stop, Look and Listen to Social Media =-.

  • Andy,

    I see your point, but then I also woke up to NPR reporting on the healthcare debate over the weekend. It was as biased as reporting could possibly be pulling the most vitriolic statements by the Republican’s and putting the actions by the Democrat’s in the best possible light.

    So while a reporter may have access to more facts and have better skills and techniques, the truth is the nations press has usurped the role of impartial reporting of the news. The truth is that now the news will be reported by all the participants and the public will be able to determine what the truth is.

    It is not perfect, but it is better than there being one truth that percolates from the establishment.
    .-= Tom Royce´s last blog ..The Top 10 Least Happy States To Live In =-.

    • Ssshh! You’re not supposed to actually notice the bias in mainstream media reporting! 😉

  • ITS A SNOWBALL FIGHT….walk away copper. No need to pull a gun.
    .-= Jaan Kanellis´s last blog ..Google Living Stories? =-.

  • So sorry, Andy. Will not happen again. 🙂

    Here is the full video. The officer got out of his hummer and had his gun drawn in the street.
    .-= Tom Royce´s last blog ..The Top 10 Least Happy States To Live In =-.

    • Thanks Tom. I love it when the crowd chants “Don’t bring a gun to a snowball fight!” 😉

  • Hocheemin

    I like to say Merry Christmas Detective Baylor. Looks like you gave yourself a present that everyone wants you to get.

    The man lies to his boss that he didn’t pull his “service weapon” just to make sure he bounces? Now everyone’s detected that you pulled a gun and then lied about it to protect yourself.

    Power to the people and not jumped-up jounos who think they are the only ones to place a story in front of their peers without bias. Watch the video mate and then read about the pitiful Post’s reaction time to this story – they even had an employee there and HE backed the police line??!

    Ha ha. Burned by snowballs!

  • If you hit my car with snow or “ice” balls that puts a dent in it, then hit me with snow balls after i get out of my car that’s assault and destruction of property. I’d pull my gun out too if i had one and nobody was listening or stopping.

    Snow balls cause damage to property and injury.

    The police officer was right to stop stupid people.

    • peter

      “The police officer was right to stop stupid people.”

      By shooting them? You sir are an idiot.

      • Hey, let’s be civil here.

        No one was shot.

        C’mon now, you have to admit that snowballs can leave a bruise! 😉

      • Gunther Larssen

        If you’ve had your eyeglasses knocked off and broken by a bunch of snowball throwing losers, then your high-and-mighty attitude would be very different. While I didn’t shoot anyone, the fear of getting pounded into the ground brought them back to reality quickly.
        When the cop rolls up, he has the experience to know that large groups fighting can escalate into something much more destructive, regardless of how innocent they may have started. A gun may have been more of an emotional reaction than necessary, but it worked.
        You drive your $50,000 car down the street and let a bunch of goofs throw ice-balls at it and see how long you maintain that “who-gives-a-crap” demeanor. Dents, broken windows and personal injury. I could change your mind in less than 60 seconds with a few precisely placed ice shots…
        Go ahead and stand on “right”, while you bleed to death by picking on the wrong guy.

  • At every tweetup I have ever been, I have pulled a gun on someone. Whats the big deal?

  • Brian Blank

    Reminds me of a snowball fight we had in Milwaukee many years ago after the bars closed. We started a “friendly” snowball fight with the bar right across the four-lane street, lots of fun an no injuries. It was going on for about 15-20 minutes when a police cruiser slowly rolled up the street, a few brave souls lobbed one or two snowballs their way but everyone pretty much settled down figuring the fun was over.

    What was surprising was the police got on the loudspeaker and broke out with a “is that the best you can do” and took off right in front of us! Needless to say the cruiser got pummeled with about 50 snowballs and the fun continued. Good times!

    I figure the police saw the situation was friendly, nothing troublesome besides a group of 20-somethings letting of a little steam and reliving their youth and then added to the fun themselves. A very memorable night 15 years later 🙂

  • M

    While I don’t condone pulling a gun on someone, I do understand the frustration. I am a Penn State graduate and on the first snow of a year, the dorm areas have a massive snow ball fight. There are hundreds of people that start at East Halls and work their way around to other dorm areas. I’m from the South. I made the mistake of putting up an umbrella, as some Southerners do when there is snow, when I left my dining hall on the first day of snow during my freshman year. (I do now understand that to be a HUGE faux pas to Northerners and Midwesterners!) I heard a loud cry of “UMBRELLA” and literally dozens of snow balls pelted me as I ran for my very life, with my broken umbrella. As I tried to close the door to my dorm, with snowballs pelting me inside the building, I was petrified! The crowd hadn’t found the West Halls dorm residents as eager to come out and play and started scouting for victims. I imagine it was during one of these lulls that the Hummer was targeted, much like my umbrella. It may seem silly, but a large testosterone charged mob of hundreds throwing snowballs, marshmallows, or anything at just you can be unnerving.

  • I think a gun was a bit extreme! While I was at university there was plenty of snow in the early hours of the morning, about 3am, and the everybody in the dorms went outside for a snowball fight. The police came down and just drove down the road, and sure enough everybody just left or calmed it down. No guns… well UK police don’t carry guns as standard, but there was no disproportionate displays!
    .-= Luci´s last blog ..SEO Video Blog – Google Real Time Search – #30 =-.

  • Just a final thought on this, it looks like the professional press, in this case the Washington Post, blew the coverage by giving credence to the police departments version instead of the video or the eyewitness account of a staff member on site.

    Paid reporters may be better trained and have better resources, but the citizen reporter typically is more motivated.
    .-= Tom Royce´s last blog ..Commercial Real Estate At Lowest Level Since 2002 =-.

  • AMORC11

    You are Clueless and too late the Bias World of Reporting started Years ago.
    Without saying Much about who I am, this Cop went out of his way to Intimidate those People.
    You never “draw” Your weapon unless You have to, ie to stop the Loss of Life.
    When You “draw Your weapon in this manner it is to say”heah I got a gun and You better listen to Me or something might happen”, that called Brandishing. You try to do this and see what Happens to You.
    I for My reasons, want People to continue to Hold these Men & Women accountable for the responsibility and trust We give them.
    Enough of this “oh it’s a mis-understanding” crap.
    Cops aren’t above the Law.
    Cops are Not Allowed to break the Law to Uphold the Law.
    Some Persons should remember this.Cops aren’t Our keepers, They are Our servants that We employ to Protect Us from those who show no respect for Us and the Law, like that Officer drawing a weapon on a Snowball.
    I am glad that Citizens are in agreement about some Officers actually having fun with a snowball fight, brings back memories.

  • Talk about an overreaction
    .-= JAB_au´s last blog ..Sorry to Ruin Christmas =-.

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