Meanwhile, CBC Alerts helped with the spread of #unnecessarypanic with this one, at 10:19 p.m: "Pacific #tsunami warning extended south to Canada/U.S. border after 7.7 quake, largest in Canada since 1949. Still no major damage reported."
Not true, never was true. And this brings us to a complaint that many Tofino residents are now raising about CBC's coverage in general. Why was there no distinguishing between a tsunami warning (i.e. imminent danger, evacuate all low-lying areas now) and a tsunami advisory (i.e. some effects may be noticed on or very near the water, such as strong currents... but no imminent crashing wave)?
But then CBC's Karen Tankard, a voice of reason in the middle of mayhem, tweeted: "Media out of control in BC tonight. Check facts, stop reporting tweets & stop speculating. Calm down. Report responsibly. #earthquakeinbc"
So what does this all come down to? Responsible communication.
In the rush to get information, any information, tweeters are keen to tweet/retweet anything they can get their hands on regardless of its accuracy. This applies every bit as much to the "big media" outlets -- to Global and CTV and CBC, all keen to be first in on the big story -- as it does to citizen journalists and recreational tweeters.
In the midst of all of the crazy tweets, the retweets, the unsubstantiated information, one small cry came out (via Twitter) from Long Beach Radio's station manager Geoff Johnson in Tofino.
While others, from big media organizations to individuals, were frantically broadcasting tweets about the tsunami, with more emphasis on the speed of spreading information than any attempt at accuracy, Johnson queried sources: questioning Global on their 30-foot wave report, and asking tweeters from CBC to citizen reporters to reveal their information sources.
"I don't think there is any differentiation between what is published by a news organization like CBC, or by any individual," says Johnson. "Just like when you are speaking face to face, on social media, you have to take responsibility for what you say."