Andy Carvin calls himself an “oral historian” and created a new genre of news coverage by blanketing Twitter during the Arab Spring and RT’ing and crowdsourcing the news as it spread on social networks. When the Newtown massacre happened last Friday, Carvin was covering it once again as the news broke, which led to mocking criticism of Carvin by media gadfly Michael Wolff at the Guardian, calling Carvin a “fevered spreader of misinformation.”
But Carvin was really putting each rumor that flew on social media out into the public sphere for discussion and trying to get at the truth. He might not have been there, but he did observe what was going on with a critical eye. Yesterday morning, he was defending himself on the Facebook Social Journalism Group and described his role like this:
I’ve always regarded myself more as an oral historian rather than a journalist. I try to capture the emotion and confusion of a breaking news story, and also challenge my followers to help me figure out what’s true and what’s not. And the only way to do that is to acknowledge the rumors, then work together to research them.
So here is Carvin’s own curated tweets from last Friday as the tragedy unfolded in Newtown, Conn. He gave us permission to embed them here, but wanted to note that he did not include all the @ replies he received from some of his questions, but does include all his RTs and tweets that day.
UPDATE (12/18/12): Due to concerns about obscenities in some of the retweets in Carvin’s Storify, I’ve edited my own compendium of Carvin’s tweets from that day, minus the ones that did not comply with PBS standards. I believe it still holds up, and includes 99% of his tweets and retweets.
Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian and fiancee Renee. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit. and Circle him on Google+