beyond the front page

“Random portraits of the situation gleaned from twitter.”

That’s how BitchslappedByLogic begins their Reddit post on the shootings on Danzig Street in Scarborough over the weekend. To belabour the metaphor, the post is a vivid self-portrait of the community, as opposed to the rougher sketches produced by more traditional news outlets. The colours are richer, the lines are finer, and most importantly, the community is at the centre of the canvas.

The post collects tweets from members of the community, starting before the shootings took place.

the invite.

The post is well-written and riveting. Is it fact-checked, balanced reporting? Nope. But neither are a lot of the stories that pass for “journalism” in the mass media these days. Accuracy and balance should be the hallmark of any media report, but with any big story you always have to go to multiple news outlets to get the full(ish) picture. The media is the lens through which we view the world outside our immediate environment — and BitchslappedByLogic widens the scope of what we, as outsiders, can see.

Since the shooting, Mayor Rob Ford has said that Toronto is the “safest city in North America” — but some people living in Scarborough might beg to differ. This post gives voice to those who don’t have the platform to give press conferences, and actually connects the reader directly to the people who live in the neighbourhood. Everyone on Twitter knows, or should know, that social media is a public forum. But what someone says on their Twitter account can be very different from what they’d say in an interview with the news media, and interviews are almost always edited and condensed — meaning the reporter gets to frame the content that an interviewee provides. This post is a great example of how technology can put peoples’ stories into their own hands, and let them frame the narrative, too. Does it replace the traditional news story that holds up to the standards of journalistic rigour? No. Does it add to it? Absolutely.

Thanks to B. for bringing the Reddit post to my attention. You can read one journalist’s take on the Maclean’s blog. Canada.com and Toronto Life have also posted pieces.

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