The Story of the Gaddafi Story

How news of the Libyan leader's demise spread on Twitter

Earlier this morning news began to spread that something major was happening in Libya. At first it seemed that a convoy, likely belonging to those loyal to former leader Moammar Gaddfi, was under attack in/near Sirte. This was where his loyalists were holed up. Was Gaddafi there too? No one knew. But soon reports emerged that he may have been captured. For a few hours, no one was clear on what had happened. Gaddafi captured, said some. Gaddafi injured and captured, or maybe just injured, said others. Then: Gaddafi dead.

We know now that Gaddafi was injured and captured and he died. We still don’t know the details of how it all happened, when exactly it happened, or how it happened. Speculation about those details is already running rampant.

This was not a case of news organizations getting it wrong, as happened with the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and other people earlier this year. Nevertheless, today’s news offers a case study in how news breaks, shifts, conflicts, and is eventually confirmed. It’s also interesting to see how different news organizations chose to share and source the information on Twitter. My Storify below attemptes to tell a story of this story.

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Craig Silverman is the editor of and the author of Regret The Error: How Media Mistakes Pollute the Press and Imperil Free Speech. He is also the editorial director of and a columnist for the Toronto Star. Tags: , , , , ,