A pat on the back to Joe Jervis at JoeMyGod for acknowledging that his tweets about Judge Walker declining to stay the order lacked the whole story, specifically that the stay would still be in effect until Aug. 18 and therefore no marriages until then, at the earliest.
While my mole in the SF courthouse did allow me to scoop everybody by 20 minutes or so, it was not until at least ten minutes later did I learn that the lift order doesn’t go into effect until Wednesday. I quickly updated my posts here and on Facebook and Twitter, but I must apologize to everybody for my premature ejacutweeting. This is why bloggers aren’t considered “real” journalists, I’m afraid.
Joe is correct that he appeared to be the only person with the initial news that the judge had denied the stay, but he didn’t have the whole story and prematurely said marriages could begin. Joe’s tweets were instantly retweeted over 100 times.
But there were worse offenders than Joe, who is just a guy with a blog and some good sources (and I say that with great admiration). Freedom to Marry also tweeted the same news, although they appear to have erased their tweet. But their tweet was picked up by Lambda Legal and the Advocate and over 100 others because they encourage people to retweet. The folks at Towleroad relied on Freedom to Marry’s tweet for their own post, which they later had to update.
That’s a much bigger problem because advocacy organizations don’t seem to understand they are in the news business when the create a social media strategy. They are viewed with authority and then picked up by others. Suddenly, lots of people have misinformation.
Fortunately, a lot of people waited until THEY SAW THE ACTUAL DOCUMENT before they started reporting. I know it’s very old-fashioned, but that’s what good journalism is all about. You can’t trust even the best moles and insiders to give you the right information and you should only trust what you can actually see.
UPDATE: From the comboxes, a note from Freedom to Marry’s Evan Wolfson:
Point taken. We did jump the gun today, and I apologize for that.
Echoing in my head now is something one of the “tough love” law profs declaimed during my first few weeks at law school law — “The first rule of being a good lawyer is: Read on.”
This was a good reminder, and also a validation of how people are looking to Freedom to Marry more and more; we want that involvement and don’t want to let people down.
Now, let’s celebrate the good news and get to work building on it…