The role of social media in the aftermath of the Aurora cinema shooting

Aurora parking lot

Parking lot right outside the theatre. (Photo: Ryan Parker)

At least 12 people were killed and 38 injured in a shooting at a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colorado, on Friday. A lot of the survivors shared their feelings on social media, particularly Twitter, and a lot of journalists used social media to gather information and get in touch with sources.

This article, by the Poynter institute for journalism, shows the different tweets and messages that came in over the course of several hours, showing how the mood changed from being excited about seeing a movie, to being in the middle of a mass casualty event. Poynter used Storify to document the event.

This article is a compilation by Storyful, whose whole business model is to gather and verify information shared on social media (for more on Storyful, see my previous post on Truth in the Age of Social Media). As you might expect from Storyful, the compilation is quite comprehensive, even though I find it a bit too sensationalist.  I really don’t have to see close-up photos of bullet-wounds, but then again I’m even more surprised that somebody would feel the need to share that on Twitter in the first place.  The audio from the police and fire scanner on the other hand, shared by a local radio station through Soundcloud, does give a good sense of how first responders were dealing with the event.

This is another article from Poynter – and I think a very important one: “While it’s common for journalists to reach out to sources on Twitter, it’s more challenging when sources have been affected by a tragedy. When you talk to people at the scene of a crime or disaster, or call them on the phone, you can show your sincerity by the look on your face or the tone of your voice. On Twitter, you can’t do that — and you’re limited by 140 characters. There are some ways, though, to tactfully contact sources on social media. Here are six related tips.”