News at the speed of death

Five minutes ago the AP pushed a report onto my phone that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had been shot. So I went to the AP’s news site. Nothing there. Then to Google News. Nothing yet. Then to Twitter, where it was the second-top story. The top item there was this one, from @KRNV, passing along an NPR report that Ms. Giffords had died.

Her Wikipedia entry already includes the date of her passing: today. Here’s that edit.

She was doing a “Congress on your corner” at a grocery store. Her last tweet (from @rep_giffords) was an invitation to the event. (Or so I read. It doesn’t come up right now.)

Her husband, Mark. E. Kelly, is a Desert Storm veteran who has survived trips to space as an astronaut, and is slated to command the upcoming final Space Shuttle flight. Turns out being a congressperson doing her job in a public marketplace proved more hazardous.

They have two kids, who now join their dad in a living hell.

Of course the comments under news postings are full of assumptions. Nothing yet about the other victims, that I can find. Correction: between the last refresh and this one, NPR now says six have died.

Arizona Public Media’s KUAZ has regular programming.

The TV station sourced most on Twitter has the unlikely name KGUN. It still hasn’t reported on its website that anybody was killed.

I’m listening now to KQTH/104-1The Truth, where the callers and the host are making sure not to blame right wing talk radio, and the second amendment. (Guns don’t kill people, wackos kill people, is the spin.) One caller just said that Rep. Giffords is still alive and in surgery.

The other local news station, Fox-affiliated KNST/790, is playing a TV station’s audio. They are saying a Fox source says she is still alive and in critical condition. They note that she is a Jewish gun-owning wife of an astronaut. They also just say that Gawker reports that the shooter was young and male, and said nothing while shooting or being held down. And four are dead, including one child, and one aide. Puma County Sherriff’s department will have a news conference at 1:30 local time in Tuscon. (Moved to 2pm later.)

KQTH has call-ins. The current caller knows one of the people who was shot, but not killed. He didn’t like Giffords’ politics, “but…” Others are calling for the perpetrator “getting what he deserves.” The host is quick, correctly, to put down callers who speculate on motivation. “I’m not going down this path of tyrannical governments and arming citizens…” The host is actually doing a good job. The caller now is a woman who knows Rep. Giffords, and has nice things to say about her. She’s also saying the perp must be mentally ill.

Are there no non-right wing and/or Fox affiliated news/talk stations in Arizona? Just asking.

Listening to the press conference live now. (2:06pm Tucson time) As I get it… one dead: a nine-year old girl. Rep. Giffords was shot through the head (“through the brain” and “through and through” with “one bullet”), but was responding to commands before she went into surgery. She is out of surgery now and in the ICU.

An AP report on my phone says a federal judge was fatally shot in the attack.

KQTH’s host Jon Justice (the station morning guy came in to handle the shift after the shooting) said that the Sherriff of Pima County blamed right-wing talk radio, and called that irresponsible. Justice (the host, not the noun) is right about that.

The alleged perp, according to KNST, is Jared Loughner, who has a YouTube channel and a MySpace page, which has just been taken down. His final words were “Goodbye friends.” A Twitpic: http://twitpic.com/3o8ajp

Business Insider on Loughner. Has one of his videos, which makes no sense. Something about “accurate information of a new currency.” Says he, “In conclusion, my ambition – is for informing literate dreamers about a new currency; in a few days, you know I’m conscience dreaming! Thank you!” Oh-kay.

KNST says two are dead: the judge and the child. KQTH says just one is dead. They’re at the “Where were you and what were you doing when it happened” stage.

The one obvious media gaffe, at least from where I sit, so far, is NPR’s report that Rep. Giffords was dead. I don’t blame that on their politics (which some are). AP might be wrong about the judge, too, if he’s alive.

The judge is John McCarthy Roll. He was nominated by George Bush on the recommendation of John McCain, for what that’s worth. A bio.

KQHT’s news department says the suspect for sure is Jared Loughner, 22 years old. He’s the guy in custody. The station reports that Loughner was tackled and held down by citizens, until police arrived.

A blah, somewhat religious statement from John McCain.

KNST (@790knst) is saying the judge is indeed dead. Editing of his Wikipedia page is currently halted for new and unregistered users. Many updates today.

Andrew Sullivan and his readers, live-blogging.

Now President Obama is speaking. “At least five people lost their lives.” Among them Judge Roll and a girl “barely nine years old.” Gabby Giffords is a friend of the President’s. “a tragedy for Arizona and for the country.”

That’s it. Brief. KQHT: “We got some information from the President… that contradicts the information we got about 20 minutes ago from UMC.” (That’s the University Medical Center.)

MSNBC video from the archives: Gabrielle Giffords says “Sarah Palin has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district and when people do that, they’ve gotta realize there are consequences to that action.” And yet so far it doesn’t look like the perp was a tool of the Mama Griz. Interesting: Judge Roll had death threats, two years ago, almost certainly unrelated as well.

I gotta get back to work. Been following this while walking around, exercising indoors between sit-down writing sessions.

Parting thought… Interesting that I can’t name a canonical single-source on this thing, except maybe the local radio stations. I can only find tweets for one of those, and they’re kinda low-volume. I believe this is a good thing. The old media still matter, and the new media do too — and both are provisional. Neither will be the same six months or a year from now.

[Later...] In the evening, working in the kitchen, I listened to CNN over Sirius satellite radio. The audio stream was basically the TV one. I’d say the work was excellent. They had an extensive interview with a doctor who barely missed getting shot, helped subdue the gunman, and did his best to treat the wounded. One of the things the doctor said stuck with me. If you don’t feel the pulse of a gunshot victim, the chance of reviving that victim is small, especially if emergency medical help and equipment don’t come quickly — which was the case here.

[Later still, Sunday evening...] Late in the early stages of what will be a long and crazy game, I like what Dan Gillmor says about #slownews. Still, in the meantime, items:

  • The 9-year old girl killed in the assault was Christina Taylor Green. She was born on 9/11/2001 (yes, that 9/11), and was what they called then “faces of hope” baby. (Firedog Lake) Her grandpa was former Mets and Yankees manager Dallas Green. (NY Daily News)
  • Ages of the dead victims are 9, 30, 63, 76, 76 and 79. (myFoxPhoenix, NY Times)
  • In a tweet on 4 November, @SarahPalinUSA wrote, “Remember months ago ‘bullseye’ icon used 2 target the 20 Obamacare-lovin’ incumbent seats? We won 18 out of 20 (90% success rate;T’aint bad). And one of the other two was just shot in the head.
  • An ad for Jesse Kelly, Gabrielle Giffords’ opponent in the most recent congressional race, once ran an ad that read, “Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully a automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly.” (Daily Beast)
  • Keith Olberman, whom I usually consider an insufferable gasbag, says agreeable stuff (at least to me) in his latest rant. In it he owns his own overboard remarks of the past.

I’d like to think this will change things, but I doubt that’s the best way to bet. Still, as Dan counsels, it’s best to wait and see.

16 comments

  1. Craig’s avatar

    I tweeted teh link about Rep. Giffords last tweet. I duplicated her name, so it showed up on my tweet as an invalid link. Here is the actual tweet from her Twitter Feed 3 hours ago:

    @Rep_Giffords Gabrielle Giffords
    My 1st Congress on Your Corner starts now. Please stop by to let me know what is on your mind or tweet me later.
    3 hours ago

  2. Andy Kern’s avatar

    Correction – should be Pima County

  3. Fish Fishman’s avatar

    I have been experiencing this story on both old and new and mixed media sources from towards the beginning.

    I first heard of her death on NPR and then got to see the whole story as it changed, including the CNN iPhone app telling me that Gabrielle Giffords was in critical condition while a pop up headline, from the same application, reports her as dead.

    It got me immediately thinking about the way our quick feed of news can enlighten us to what is happening in the world at lightning speed. In both old and new media it can also be a double edged sword.

    Thank you for publishing this, Doc. it was refreshing to see you writing a detailed tracking of how this story has been playing out. It was refreshing to see you covering the the story I was most fascinated with , how speed of information sometime takes the place of accurate journalism.

  4. Russell Nelson’s avatar

    I wonder what monkeys do when something horrible happens to one of their number? Oh, wait, I don’t have to wonder … I have Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, and the major media.

  5. matt’s avatar

    tragic event to say the least.

    I find that the AP is not the only one who will push an alert and then you go to their iphone expecting to see a story and…NOTHING!

  6. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Thanks for catching the typo, Andy. I had it right in one place, wrong in another. Fixed now.

  7. Andrew Leyden’s avatar

    It’s also interesting in how Twitter can also be used by the media to discover sources. For example one person was a friend of the shooter in high school and tweeted that she knew him. Mainstream media found her in minutes and is running her through the interview process.

    http://twitter.com/#!/caitieparker

  8. Marie Ysais’s avatar

    Tragic and my thoughts are with her family. I have seen the same news releases that are all confused and mixed results as to her being alive or passed. NPR is now saying she is dead and that they released it early, like 20 hours ago. I am not sure why everyone is so confused? I wonder if she has passed but they need to keep it quiet? My heart goes out to the ones that have died and the young lives that have been lost.

  9. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Marie, I think the reason NPR reported that she was killed was that early (and correct) word was that she was shot right through the head. It’s clear from the press conference at the hospital today that it’s not only possible to survive such a thing, but that quick action can save the person. In Gabrielle Giffords’ case, the bullet passed through her left hemisphere, back to front. From what I gather, damage to the cortex was only to those sections. Now she is laying in an induced coma with half her skull removed, to allow the brain to swell. The bone is preserved in a way that allows it to be re-attached, amazingly. Allowing brain swelling is something learned through treatment of soldiers in recent wars, a cause that Ms. Giffords championed, as I understand it. The ironies mount.

  10. Marie Ysais’s avatar

    That injury sounds like she might need a miracle to survive and bounce back and lead a life as she was used to living. Indeed the ironies mount with Ms. Gifford, I wish her peace and wellness as she fights for her life. I have to say reading the injury as you have written makes me sad. I have watched the news and read countless articles but you have written with the most detail.
    I cam across your blog only a few days ago regarding twitter but I have added you to my reading list as I enjoy your blog. Keep up the great work.

  11. francine hardaway’s avatar

    I live in Arizona, and have lived here since 1968. No, there are no neutral talk radio stations here. It’s all very conservative, and it is getting more so by the minute. Barry Goldwater would be a liberal in Arizona today, simply because he was a gentleman. I knew him. I also know Mccain, who has always been a hot head disrespected even by our local Republicans. Our Democrats, Babbitt and DiConcini, were blue dogs in today’s parlance.

    The best media source was KOLD-TV Tucson, which had reporters on the ground. No one knew whether she had died until the hospital said so.

    I have had one foot out the door for the past six years. I’d move the other foot, but I found out by doing it how expensive it is to own a house in the Bay Area and I just short sold mine to get out of some of the expense. And that’s where I wanted to live.

  12. hari’s avatar

    Hi. Nice littel concversation going on here.
    I thought I would give my 2 cents worth on what happens here in Singapore. Down here radio jockeys get axex if their programmes are anything more that conservative. A misplaced comment and out you go!

  13. James Fowlkes’s avatar

    This is all so very disturbing. I wish the news could get this right. Confirm, then report, but the pressure is too strong to the “first”. It’s really a shame…

  14. Steve Woodward’s avatar

    “Interesting that I can’t name a canonical single-source on this thing, except maybe the local radio stations….The old media still matter, and the new media do too — and both are provisional. Neither will be the same six months or a year from now.”

    We just put up a page at Nozzl Real-Time Technologies that follows all the Tucson news in two side-by-side real-time streams: one for major media and one for social media. Link here: http://nozzl.com/tucson-shootings/

    We built a combined news/social-media stream immediately after the shootings and offered it to the Arizona media as a reporting tool. But no one took us up on our offer. So we decided to put up our own page, where visitors can compare the nearly motionless stream from traditional news outlets with the boisterous, never-stopping stream of tweets, blog posts, commentary, link-sharing and citizen journalism.

    We don’t have the server capacity to archive everything in the streams for searching. At best, the streams contain about three hours of social media and fewer than 24 hours of mainstream media. Otherwise, I’d say our little three-person company in Portland, Oregon, comes close to the “canonical single-source” you’re looking for.

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