This morning, a caller pointed me to a story on a major national news source's website about the explosion that leveled JJ's restaurant near the Country Club Plaze late yesterday afternoon.
"This (site) says they think a car hit a gas line and that's what blew up," she said. "Why isn't The Star up with that information too? I think that's important."
I just spoke with one of the senior editors who was working on the coverage last night, and he tells me the newsroom was well aware of reports of a vehicle strike -- and that The Star's sources said that was wrong. And as of now, the national source that was reporting the car is no longer including that detail in its story.
But last night as reports were flooding Twitter, I saw uncountable tweets citing the car accident. The main Star account was tweeting a lot of anecdotal reports from the scene, as well as retweeting certain others'. (By the way, while I oversee The Star's social media as part of my role as public editor, I wasn't tweeting last night. That was being handled by an editor in the newsroom as news broke.)
So the question here remains how much a news source such as The Star should try to play the always-have-to-be-first Twitter game. I've long thought (and argued here and in my columns) that journalists care vastly more about being first than their audience does. Get it right first and foremost, please. The rush to have an advantage of seconds over everyone else (the literal reality on Twitter, especially) can lead to some sloppy mistakes. Those errors can erode a journalist's credibility far more easily than being a little later than the competition.