As seen on The Recorder
By Aundréa Murray
A panel clarifying some of the chaos created after the use of the hashtag “#CCSULockdown” was held last week, giving faculty and students an opportunity to learn about the importance of miscommunication via social media.
Academic advisor, professor and NBC meteorology reporter Darren Sweeney hosted the panel inviting all faculty, students and staff to listen in on the reactions of many and the decisions that were made by the panelists during the campus lockdown on Nov 4.
Central’s Media Relations officer Janice Palmer sat beside student reporter and assistant news editor of The Recorder, Skyler Magnoli who was also accompanied by breaking news reporter for The Hartford Courant, Steve Busemeyer.
Sweeney gave the slowly swelling crowd an informative recap of early November’s events. Not many could forget the eerie silence that engulfed the campus after a suspicious “gunman” was reported to have entered a campus hall.
Sweeney immediately explained how risqué it was for students to have tweeted their own forms of news.
“That (gunman) is a bold statement. What. Is. Your. Source?” Sweeney responded to a misinformed tweet the day of the incident. “My intention was to get people to think before they retweet or tweet.”
Though the situation caused tension and fear from a majority of the campus, it was the reactions from other people across the country that added to the all of the pandemonium. Tweets from the student body, especially those hash-tagged incorrectly, caused many people to wonder what had gone wrong in Connecticut, again. Students who were stationed in classrooms and other parts of the campus depended largely on Twitter for news updates.
That is where communications staff Janice Palmer came in. Some of her duties include the regulation of the university’s twitter page. She admitted that the faux-shootout truly tested her skills as a former journalist.
“Our responsibility is to get the word out to our campus community..and to share with them as much information as possible,” Palmer explained.
CCSU’s staff learned a hard lesson on breaking news reporting. As much as the school wanted to keep students and anyone else that was tuned in informed on what was going on around them, it was more important that Palmer and her co-workers had facts straight before hitting the enter key and sending out a tweet. She also stressed the significance in realizing the crowd you are speaking out to as a reporter.
“I’m always debating with myself with what we can say and how much we can say,” said Palmer.
Staff writer Skyler Magnoli also learned about the magnitude of her words as a reporter and the impact her tweets had on the hundreds who read them.
“Though it was a disadvantage being stuck in our office [during the lockdown]..it was an advantage because other staff members were in classes with kids. We were able to relay a lot of unknown information,” Magnoli said.
“I know from my internship that you have to be so careful about how you word all of your tweets,” Magnoli said.
While loads of people were capable of watching the news on television to be filled in on the events, students (Magnoli included) were stranded on campus in the midst of the mayhem. Her integrity as a writer seemingly strengthened and she found it most important to keep the people who were actually involved the most informed of them all. She explained on the panel that her position was to clarify the many rumors that were being relayed online. Magnoli said that both she and The Recorder staff wanted to provide a dependable news source for their peers and faculty members. Palmer and her marketing staff wanted to do the same.
“People’s safety is at the top of our lists,” Palmer added.
Reporter Steve Busemeyer explained the ins and outs of reporting on breaking news as well as how crucial it is to have legitimacy to all statements publicly made. Dozens of students and their parents felt misguided through the lockdown and Busemeyer helped clarify why things may have worked out the way that they did.
“One thing that has not really changed in journalism, ever, is good sources,” Busemeyer explained. “You have to be right with what you print, publish and tweet. Twitter is not a source; write that down.”