8 rules of live-tweeting ‘breaking news’ learned from the Boston bombing story

The 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, a horrifying event in and of itself, is a reminder of how scary the news can be when misinformation spreads. When explosions first happened, talking heads began speculating on the culprits and dozens of outlets misreported facts. As developments continued to unfold, newspapers, TV stations and other reporters made social media almost unbearable to follow as it became impossible to know what to believe. Most notably, The New York Post misidentified suspects (on the front page, no less) and inflated the number of casualties, while CNN and the AP were lambasted for claiming arrests were imminent or had taken place Wednesday before the FBI and Boston Police had even named who they were/are looking for.

1. Being right is more important than being first.
Being wrong once is a thousand times more damaging to a reputation than being second or third to report the news. After CNN and Fox News misreported the U.S. Supreme Court’s health care decision last year, now everything they say comes with a thought in the back of your mind: “Well, they were wrong before…” Trust takes months or years to earn and minutes to lose.

2. If it’s not your beat, don’t make it your beat.
I’m appalled at sports radio jocks, entertainment reporters and other professionals (especially in cities that aren’t Boston) who suddenly think they need to post a play-by-play on events they don’t normally cover. They’re not going to be reliable sources and their followers/readers/fans who want to hear about playoff games or celebrity gossip are going to be annoyed that they’re getting something else. Feel free to post major/confirmed updates or your own personal reactions but otherwise let the news reporters on the scene do their job.

3. Tweeting like you’re the only one with access to information.
CNN, ABC, AP and CBS News have a combined 15 million followers on Twitter — for starters. Social media users sometimes feel like they must update every human being on earth with every tidbit that gets tweeted, so that even the most casual news consumer feels like they’re being told the same thing all day long.

4. Scanners and dispatch audio are not reliable sources. (Neither are fake Twitter accounts.)
Phony callers, confused authorities on the scene, honest mistakes in the heat of the moment — just because something’s on a police scanner, doesn’t mean it’s true. Slate points out an interesting phenomenon on Friday where false information that Twitter was getting from the scanner was actually false information that the police on the scanner had gotten from Twitter, including updates from fake accounts.

5. Information, whether true or not, can sometimes cost lives.
During a manhunt or a standoff, sharing information about law enforcement locations or maneuvers can tip off the suspects. It’s 2013, so keep in mind they have smartphones and TVs, too. They can see everything that we’re saying about them — and they may thus take action that costs the lives of people who didn’t need to die.

6. “Sources,” “rumors,” “reports” are not the same as “official,” “confirmed,” and “announced.”
Every newspaper, TV station, radio station or news site is aiming to do two things: Inform their audience, and grow their audience. Sometimes to grow their audience (see: make money), they’ll stretch the length of a story or jump on it early with flimsy information. In the case of Boston and the Newtown shootings, “sources” that were incorrect led to false information spreading and innocent people being unfairly accused of crimes.

7. Breaking news that’s already broken.
You woke up at 7 a.m. and you’re just now reading a story that started at midnight? Don’t update everyone on the last seven hours. The world doesn’t revolve around your sleep schedule. That said, major brands still sometimes make the mistake of posting tweets about “breaking news” that a) they didn’t break and b) has been circulating for more than half an hour. When news moves at the speed of social media, breaking news is usually broken within 10 minutes.

8. Twitter is like the “telephone” game.
“Police are looking for a suspect who is wearing a baseball hat” can quickly turn into “Police have arrested a Boston Red Sox fan” if you’re not careful. Especially when limited by 140 characters, details get left out or changed for the sake of brevity. So when you tweet based on another person’s tweeted info, keep in mind they might’ve based theirs on another tweet and so on… consider it the 21st century version of the “telephone” game.

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Phil Jackson evaluates Syracuse basketball’s Final Four loss to Michigan on Twitter

Phil Jackson on Twitter

Former NBA coaches Kurt Rambis, left, and Phil Jackson live-tweeted the 2013 Final Four games and offered thoughts on Syracuse basketball. (Photo via @JeanieBuss)


The 2013 NCAA Tournament has come to an end for the Syracuse basketball team after the Michigan Wolverines beat the Orange 61-56 on Saturday night. It marked the end of Jim Boeheim’s fantastic postseason turnaround after an embarrassing 61-39 loss to Georgetown on March 9 — SU went on to the Big East Championship and then defied bracket expectations with a run to the Final Four, and everyone’s looking for answers why Michael Carter-Williams, C.J. Fair, Brandon Triche and the rest of the Orange aren’t playing Louisville for the championship.

“Zen Master” Phil Jackson, one man who knows about winning, may have the answers. In his first attempt at live-tweeting, the legendary NBA coach shared his thoughts during both Final Four games (the first being between Wichita State and Louisville) while hanging out with former Los Angeles Lakers star Kurt Rambis.

“Don’t know who to pick as fav in this game..opponents must have a good game plan vs @Cuse must have high/low active posts vs the zone AND good shooter and rebounders and Michigan has the shooters,” Jackson wrote in a series of tweets. “Orange people are very quick defensively, but Cardinals and Orange teams met in the Big East finals and played during regular season… vs zones one if it’s a 2-3 zone you must mismatch point gd offense-if it’s a 1-3-1 must use 2 gd front.”

Some more highlights from the 67-year-old basketball guru’s live-tweeting of the Syracuse-Michigan showdown:

  • He didn’t offer NBA scouting reports on other players, but said Syracuse’s Carter-Williams “is a nice looking player-good size, handle, and can shoot from range… I’ve been educated on MCW, but he has the right form and I like his stroke.”
  • On Michigan’s Mitch McGary “Kurt and I laughed at the same time when McGary flinched on that pass @KRambis”
  • SU’s leading scorer C.J. “Fair is more than a Fair shooter…he’s good”
  • On momentum: “mo is on the orange side and it’s going to be a tight one”
  • On the Wolverines in the second half: “Poor shot selection by that yellow team…” and “Two bad plays by Michigan…McGary got up in the air to pass and then that 2 on 1 break-you must pass the ball” and “even if that was their last time out coach Beinlein had to get control of team. OOPs what was that call…?”
  • On UM’s defensive strategy for the last 15 seconds of the game: “Can’t let Orange get a 3 off…foul on the floor, but under 10secs…”
  • After backup guard Trevor Cooney tanked a layup attempt to tie the game: “Well-well it’s over and so am I…thanks for the intercourse all you bball fans.”

Jackson, who just joined the social network 10 days ago, is still learning how to share his thoughts in 140 characters or less but has already been verified on Twitter and gained more than 230,000 followers since his first (somewhat nonsensical) post explaining why he’s @PhilJackson11 and not another number: “11 champ;ipnsikp[ ringhs.” (The former coach of teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and the Chicago Bulls has 11 NBA championship rings and, as you might have guessed, @PhilJackson and @Phil_Jackson are already taken by other users on the site.)

“How many people know what a wheat shock really is? @krambis when I was a kid I helped my uncle bring in the harvest-he used a threasher,” he wrote during the Wichita State-Louisville game, explaining the Kansas-based team’s name of the Shockers. “First you had to cut the grain and put in in a shock and then transport it to the threasher. the combine did all the jobs at one time.”

So welcome to Twitter, Mr. Jackson. And thanks for sharing your thoughts on the end of an unforgettable season for Syracuse basketball fans. We’ll see Boeheim back as coach in the ACC next year — and I’ll be back with more lipreading tweets during games. And hopefully we’ll all see Jackson back coaching in the NBA soon.

Syracuse basketball’s Jim Boeheim retiring? How tweeting on the wrong account can really screw things up

Syracuse University's official Twitter account posted a link to a blog rumor about Jim Boeheim's possible retirement. The tweet has since been deleted.

Syracuse University’s official Twitter account posted a link to a blog rumor about Jim Boeheim’s possible retirement. The tweet has since been deleted.

Is Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim retiring? Yes, eventually. Is he retiring at the end of the 2012-13 season? Possibly.

The 68-year-old curmudgeon captain has more than 900 wins, all of them with the Orange(men), and all good things must come to an end eventually. But hopefully this isn’t how it ends.

A tweet posted by @SyracuseU, the official Twitter account for Syracuse University, wrote: “Did I just watch Jim Boeheim’s last game in the Carrier Dome? One source says yes.” It included a link to DYST Now, which stands for Did You See That?! and claims to be “Syracuse’s First All-Sports Newspaper.”

Truthfully, it’s a blog. Written by a college freshman at Onondaga Community College. Whose bio says he’s “been fortunate enough to interview several famous people/players such as famous broadcaster, Bob Costas, the first African American NBA player, Earl Lloyd, NFL player, Chandler Jones, as well as many more professional and collegiate athletes.”

The blog entry that SU’s tweet linked to is filled with similar punctuation and grammar errors. It claims “a source close to DYST Now” told the blogger that Syracuse has asked Boeheim to retire in the wake of another unsubstantiated rumor that Athletics Director Daryl Gross is meeting with the NCAA about violations related to last year’s team. At the end, it promises readers “We’ll have update you more as more of this story comes out.”

In other words, DON’T BELIEVE A WORD OF IT.

But the fact that @SyracuseU tweeted a link to it threw a can of gasoline on the fire, leading to a report on Deadspin and likely countless other major sports reporting outlets. As Deadspin even notes, “Everything about this is weird, and the @SyracuseU tweet has since been deleted. The DYST Now page is certainly of questionable authority, but why did Syracuse link to it?”

The answer is that Syracuse University, like many other brands, lets students handle the brand’s official account. This is a mistake. A student made a similar mistake for the school when they tweeted about how excited they were to eat some Chick-fil-A over November break on @SyracuseU’s account. Not only is there no Chick-fil-A restaurant within 100 miles of Syracuse, N.Y., the chain also hasn’t been cast in a favorable light public relations-wise recently.

Basically, it happens when social media accounts are shared by multiple users, where people accidentally post stuff they meant to put on their personal account.

As public relations firm Tanner Friedman writes, “This trouble didn’t start at the moment of careless students tweeting. It started because our culture has anointed college students as ‘social media experts.'” Students should not be managing accounts that represent a professional brand, especially one that’s worth millions of dollars.

Of course professionals can make mistakes, too. Professionals are people, and “to err is human.” But when a mistake is made, a professional can correct it quickly and handle the ensuing PR crisis or face the risk of losing their job. If a student mis-tweets, they’re not going to be kicked out of school.

In conclusion, do not worry about Jim Boeheim. He’s leaving eventually, and Syracuse alumni and fans will have to deal with that, but not now. At the very least, the Orange have an NCAA Tournament to worry about first.

And if you need further reassurance, SU spokesman Pete Moore told the Syracuse Post-Standard it’s not true.

Update: A little more than two hours after the Twitter drama started, @SyracuseU posted an official statement: “#OrangeNation: Earlier tonight a tweet was mistakenly sent. Nothing in the tweet was true or accurate and we apologize for the confusion.”

Update No. 2: The gaffe has now become an Associated Press story, and the 19-year-old author of the blog post tells The Post-Standard he’s sticking by his report, claiming his unidentified source also proved to be right about Dion Waiters going pro.

Update No. 3: Some have told me they still believe students should manage the school’s official Twitter account, because they’re students and should be able to learn. My opinion? Let them create an account for a fake brand and learn that way. A brand’s official social media account is, in today’s world, the same as an official spokesperson or public relations director — which are never students. A professional can respond to the mistake faster and minimize the damage before a non-story becomes a story, and be held responsible whereas a student won’t be fired or expelled. And, again, this isn’t the first time this has happened. As TNIAAM points out, a @SyracuseU tweet in 2011 violated NCAA guidelines when they celebrated DaJuan Coleman coming to ‘Cuse before he had signed a letter of intent.

This Calvin and Hobbes-themed wedding will make your day

Calvin Hobbes wedding

Jonathan and Stephanie tied the knot in July 2012 at Casa Real Winery in Livermore, CA. Photos by Junshien Lau.

I don’t typically gush over wedding themes and engagement photo shoots, but I’m a big fan of Calvin & Hobbes so I just had to share this with you.

Indeed, these Calvin and Hobbes wedding photos will melt your heart if you loved Bill Watterson’s classic comic strip, which ran from 1985 to 1995 and sadly (or perhaps gladly) hasn’t been touched since, even for a movie, TV show or cheap merchandising. Jonathan and Stephanie tied the knot in July 2012 at Casa Real Winery in Livermore, California, and they’ve just this week shared pictures from photographer Junshien Lau here.

“We wanted our wedding to feel like our relationship — joyful, kid-at-heart, quirky, whimsical, breezy, with a dash of mischievousness,” Stephanie writes. “We came to the realization that these were all adjectives that described our beloved Calvin and Hobbes comic series — one of the first things we bonded over, when we met five years ago! We decided to have fun with it and drew all our inspiration from the comic.”

The theme included an engagement photo shoot with Jonathan dressed as Calvin, posing with a red wagon and a transmogrifier box while Stephanie holds Hobbes, the beloved orange tiger that made the comic come to life. Save-the-dates, wedding invitations, programs and more used the comic’s quirky font, the ring bearer wore a red-and-black striped t-shirt and carried Hobbes while the flower girl perhaps personified Susie Derkins. They even had Calvin & Hobbes cake toppers and dinosaur-shaped bubbles (because Calvin and Jonathan both love dinosaurs) instead of rice!

Calvin and Hobbes wedding

Jonathan and Stephanie tied the knot in July 2012 at Casa Real Winery in Livermore, CA. Photos by Junshien Lau.

Calvin and Hobbes wedding

Jonathan and Stephanie tied the knot in July 2012 at Casa Real Winery in Livermore, CA. Photos by Junshien Lau.

Calvin and Hobbes wedding

Jonathan and Stephanie tied the knot in July 2012 at Casa Real Winery in Livermore, CA. Photos by Junshien Lau.

See more photos here.

29 things that will make you feel old

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Ferris Bueller knew what he was talking about, and I always get a kick out of taking a moment to look at what’s happened — and how long it’s been since they happened. For example, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off came out when I was just two years old. In honor of my 29th birthday (that’s right, Geoff Herbert has been turning it up as “DeafGeoff” since Feb. 20, 1984) here are 29 facts that will make you feel just as old as I am. Enjoy!

1. Kids born in the year 2000 become teenagers this year.
Whoa.

Britney kisses Madonna

Britney and Madonna locked lips during the 2003 VMAs. 10 years ago!

2. Madonna kissed Britney Spears a decade ago.
The two pop stars made out on stage during the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards. Madge also kissed Christina Aguilera, but no one remembers that.

3. Elijah Wood and Macauley Culkin are both 32.
“The Good Son,” starring both of the child actors, came out 20 years ago.

4. Magazines now out of print: Spin, Newsweek, Blender, The Sporting News.
Apparently people read stuff on this thing called the Internet nowadays.

5. Metallica’s first album came out 30 years ago.
James Hetfield is now 49 years old with three kids.

6. Cory and Topanga from “Boy Meets World” have a teen daughter now.
The TGIF couple married in 2000 (on the show, not in real life) and are coming back to TV with a 13-year-old child for “Girl Meets World.”

7. Every player on the 2012-13 Syracuse basketball team was born in the ’90s.
Senior James Southerland was born in April 1990 and the youngest player, freshman guard Jerami Grant, is younger than the “Jeremy” by Pearl Jam. (Jerami was born in March ’94 and the song appeared on Eddie Vedder and co.’s 1991 album Ten.)

8. Nintendo Entertainment System
The first NES was released in Japan in 1983 — 30 years ago — and Nintendo launched the iconic video game console in North America beginning in ’85.

9. 50 Cent’s “In Da Club”
Fiddy’s first massive hit came out in January 2003. That’s more than 10 years ago.

10. Curly Sue is married and the Spy Kids girl is divorced.
Curly Sue star Alisan Porter is 31 now and tied the knot last year, even welcoming a baby boy in the summer. Alexa Vega first played ‘Spy Kid’ Carmen Cortez in 2001 and she’s not only old enough (24) to play a slutty badass in Robert Rodriguez’s Machete Kills (coming this year), but also had her first divorce last year.

11. “Teletubbies” has been off the air for more than a decade.
Dipsy, Laa-Laa, Po, and Tinky Winky last appeared on TV in January 2002.

12. The Nirvana baby is old enough to legally drink alcohol.
Spencer Elden, who showed the world his penis on the cover of Nevermind, turns 22 this year.

The Nirvana baby!

The Nirvana baby!

13. The Mighty Ducks turned 20 last year.
Emilio! Estevez played triple-deke inventor and youth hockey coach Gordon Bombay for the first time in 1992. Kind of surprised a D4: The Mighty Ducks hasn’t happened yet at this point.

14. The New Kids are now in their 40s.
All of NKOTB (or New Kids on the Block, however you refer to them) are 40 years old or older. Jonathan Knight is 44.

15. Maggie from “The Simpsons” would be 24 years old today.
If she aged, that is. The first episode of the longest-running cartoon aired on Dec. 17, 1989.

16. ‘N Sync’s last televised performance was 10 years ago.
Justin Timberlake is busy with his “Suit & Tie” these days, too busy to get back together with Lance Bass, Joey Fatone, Chris Kirkpatrick and JC Chasez. The boy band went on hiatus in 2002 but sang together at the 2003 Grammy Awards in a tribute to the Bee Gees.

17. Jurassic Park came out 20 years ago.
The first dinosaur epic came out in 1993. Jurassic Park IV is on the way, due in theaters in 2014.

18. ’90s bands are now playing nostalgia tours.
Sugar Ray, Smash Mouth, Gin Blossoms, Vertical Horizon, Fastball are touring together (if this was 1998, this would blow your mind!) this summer.

19. The final episode of “M*A*S*H” aired 30 years ago.
More than 100 million viewers tuned in for the Feb. 1983 finale — still the most-watched ever.

20. Eminem’s daughter turns 18 this year.

Don’t be a creep about it, but Hailie Mathers was born in December 1995.

21. McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It” ad campaign started a decade ago.
Remember JT even did a song about it? Holy 2003.

22. The top songs 15 years ago include “The Boy is Mine,” “Truly Madly Deeply” and “My Heart Will Go On.”

Next’s “Too Close” and Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” also came out in 1998.

23. New TV shows in 1993: “The X-Files,” “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” “Frasier,” “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” and “Beavis & Butt-head.”
They just don’t make ’em like they used to.

24. Kids today have no idea what a floppy disk or a diskette is.
Yet they click on a picture of one to save files in Microsoft Word.

25. “1999” was 30 years ago.
Prince wanted to party like it’s the end of the millenium (which was technically Dec. 31, 2000) in 1983.

26.Brad Pitt turns 50 years old this year.
Speaking of Prince, he and Michael J. Fox, Ellen DeGeneres, Madonna, Colin Firth and Antonio Banderas are all in their 50s already.

27. The dancing baby has been around for more than 15 years.

First an Internet phenomenon in 1996, you may best remember the baby cha-cha-ing to “Hooked on a Feeling (Oogachaka)” in 1998 on “Ally McBeal.”

28. You can’t buy Surge, Crystal Pepsi, Hi*C Ecto Cooler or Squeezit drinks anymore.
I’m thirsty.

29. Michael Jordan first retired 20 years ago.
The now 50-year-old legendary athlete quit basketball in 1993, played baseball briefly, and then thankfully brought us more hoops greatness (and Space Jam).

Lipreading Syracuse basketball’s Jim Boeheim: My first feature article in The Post-Standard

Lipreading Jim Boeheim

A sneak preview of Geoff Herbert’s first feature article in The Post-Standard, appearing in print on Sunday, February 10, 2013.

“Wanna see my picture on the cover, wanna buy five copies for my mother…”

I recently began my new position as Entertainment Reporter at Syracuse Media Group, the new home of syracuse.com and The Post-Standard newspaper. I mainly focus on writing about hot topics that can include movies, music, television, celebrity gossip, technology news and Central New York life. On Friday, I wrote about something a little different that people have asked about many times so it seemed fitting to share:

#Lipreading Jim Boeheim: How Syracuse basketball gets even more fun on Twitter.”

While everything I write appears online at syracuse.com, I’m excited to say that the piece will also be appearing in print on Sunday, Feb. 10 — my first feature article in The Post-Standard!

I’ll be buying a few copies for family members (Look, mom! I have a job!) but I also recommend picking up one for yourself if you live in Central New York. Not only does it include great photos of the SU coach making his priceless facial expressions, but it’s also a lot better than the first two articles I wrote on syracuse.com in 2010 when I started as an Associate Producer.

Thank you to all for reading and supporting me, and a big thank you to my hundreds of new followers. I’m excited to share with you more lipreading tweets from upcoming Syracuse basketball games as well as stories, news and observations in 140 characters (or less). Let’s go Orange!

Video: Geoff ‘DeafGeoff’ Herbert speaks at TEDxBuffalo about hearing loss, listening

Geoff 'DeafGeoff' Herbert at TEDxBuffalo

Geoff “DeafGeoff” Herbert speaks at TEDxBuffalo in October 2012 about being a deaf DJ, growing up with hearing loss, and the importance of listening versus hearing.


I spoke at my first TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) event on October 9th at Canisius College in Buffalo, and I’m happy to share with you the final video cut (in HD! See my face for radio in crisp pictures!) from my TEDxBuffalo speech titled “Listening is More Important Than Hearing.”

As an adult who was born with a profound binaural hearing loss, I was happy to share my experiences growing up hard-of-hearing and how I pursued the careers that I’ve succeeded in, including more than 10 years as a DJ (including six years as a morning show producer at a Clear Channel radio station in Syracuse, perhaps as the only deaf on-air personality in the country). I talked about speech therapy, my love of music, and the importance of listening versus hearing.

I’m now an Entertainment Reporter for Syracuse Media Group, the home of syracuse.com and The Post-Standard newspaper, but also still work as a disc jockey for parties, dances, weddings and other events. I still embrace and advocate the value of listening because I still do the same thing at my job — listening to what the audience wants, responding to them and continuing to inform and entertain.

Thank you again to Kevin Purdy for inviting me to speak at TEDxBuffalo and much appreciation to all who attended, watched and/or tweeted me their thoughts afterwards. It was a fun experience and I’m always happy to share my experiences. If you have any follow-up questions or would like to know more, please feel free to contact me.