Fastest finger first: Police tweets about Boston bombing suspect’s arrest

Journalists depend on news sources for information. Quoting official sources also provides legitimacy to news reports. These official sources now use social media, and Twitter functions as another avenue for journalists to monitor information from sources.

On Friday, April 19, as the news media and the public closely monitored the manhunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the second suspect in the April 15 Boston bombings, the Boston Police Department tweeted at 7:45 pm that Tsarnaev had finally been taken into custody.

It was an official confirmation that bypassed traditional news organizations.

News organizations retweeted or tweeted about the official tweet thereafter, and so did many Twitter followers of the Boston Police Department, whose number had grown to more than 333,000 that night, even surpassing the 275,000 Twitter followers of the Boston Globe.

Here is a non-exhaustive collection of tweets from news organizations sparked by the Boston Police Department’s first tweet, which has gotten more than 77, 000 retweets and more than 19,000 favorites as of April 20.

Consider this as a sort of timeline of how different news media reacted when official confirmation of an important story came not through their usual unnamed, confidential sources but in the form of a tweet. View the tweets on Storify.

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