Discovery Channel Stand Off: The Day The Old/New Media Line Ceased to Exist

As of 4:30 this Wednesday afternoon, there is still a situation on going at the Discovery Channel headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. Most of the staff were evacuated when earlier this afternoon, an armed gunmen entered the building and reportedly fired shots. I say reportedly very intentionally here, because as the story as developed throughout the afternoon, details were coming from every corner of the media world about of everything from the shooter’s name (James Lee) to his potential motives and the moral crusade on which he is undertaking.

I have been privy to a barrage of e-mails with the team at We Love DC, as we all pass whatever stories, links, or reports we hear from our sources – and one of our writers has been admirably checking each source and posting it in stream on the local blog. I’ve traded IMs with my managing editor at Mediaite with the different details that came in from local media that I can maybe pass along to help further his stories.

Yes, that’s the blog world. I’ve also been staying up with what the others have been doing, not just fellow local blog DCist and Aaron Morrissey, but also the work of TBD, which led me to WUSA’s Kristin Fisher tweeting up a storm and other coverage from folks like the Washingtonian. Then, it hits the major nets, and CNN is writing about it. And then I look closely: it’s all the same reporting going on, across the board. Then I start to notice that a Twitter friend of mine points out to NBC’s Jim Long that his retweet of a Breaking News link to a photo was called out to be an inaccurate snapshot by TBD, and that CNN is getting quotes from DCist:

[Updated at 4:04 p.m.] Aaron Morrissey, the editor in chief of the web publication DCist, said he came across James Lee’s anti-Discovery Channel manifesto in 2008, when Lee was planning to hold a protest against the channel.

Lee has been identified by law enforcement sources as the man holding hostages at the Discovery Channel headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Lee, Morrissey said, “had some kind of off-the-wall ideas in that manifesto.”

The 2008 protest, he said, “was not that well attended.”

A month or so later, Lee was arrested near the building on littering and disorderly conduct charges, Morrissey said. The littering stemmed from Lee’s throwing money in to the air, he said.

Then, we find the magic bullet that shows just how far things have come: the Washington Post grabs the video feed from TBD (obnoxiously overlaying their banner on top of TBD’s logo in the bottom right, as noted by the New York Times David Carr, as caught in the screen cap below. That overlay banner has since been removed) to fill in the news gap.

All of this has been fascinating, it’s just one big mess across different channels, of different size publications, every one trying to get information out there. Some have been doing well (one Twitter user went with the hyperbole that this is TBD’s Gulf War moment), but to me it’s the day the line really disappeared. Not blurred, it’s gone.

There is one more story here, and it ironically proves the point that I hammered Mike Wise for yesterday: the fact that a photo that was unverified, taken to be the gunmen by organizations all the way up to MSNBC’s Breaking News account, does show there are some flaws in how news gets reported. That photo has appeared in some 1,600 tweets, gaining 32,000 views. That’s ridiculous. And it isn’t accurate. Just an interesting consideration in how stories break and what we train ourselves to trust.

Today, we were all bloggers, reporters, journalists and citizens hoping this story ends soon and well. Keep the folks up in Silver Spring in your thoughts, everyone. (UPDATE, 5:07 as I was pressing publish, it did end with the suspect being shot and hostages freed).

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2 Comments on “Discovery Channel Stand Off: The Day The Old/New Media Line Ceased to Exist”

  1. […] Discovery Channel Stand Off: The Day The Old/New Media Line Ceased to Exist « State of the Fourth E… (tags: twitter real-time realtime coverage journalism news live) […]

  2. […] Shared Discovery Channel Stand Off: The Day The Old/New Media Line Ceased to Exist « State of the Fourth E…. […]


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