To tweet or not to tweet

When Boston Herald reporter Ian Rapoport went to the funeral of Myra Kraft on Friday, July 22nd, his tweets from Temple Emmanuel in Newton, Massachusetts, set off a controversy. Kraft was the wife of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. His actions led others to ask, was appropriate for the reporter to tweet from the Temple?

Rapoport explained what happened on WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan morning radio show, saying

While I was there to pay respects to Myra Kraft, I was there as a reporter going to write a story on the funeral, on the service, which I did. So you know, what I want to do every time is bring timely newsworthy information to readers and followers and whoever else, basically in every way that’s available, and so I tweet a lot….

…I didn’t tweet once [the service] began. The only thing that I’m sort of still thinking about that I think is difficult for some people to wrap their head around is I was inside the building. I was physically in the temple. …Maybe it might have been better to step outside in the reporter area, communicate the news that way and then go back in. I just didn’t want to lose my seat. So maybe that’s something if I could do it again I would consider physically where I was. I was in my seat. Would it have been better if I was in the hallway, in the doorway? I’m not sure, but those are the kind of things I’m thinking about.

Brophy on the Boston Sports List blog understood what happened but was not comfortable with the idea.

The line between occupational integrity and occupational responsibility gets more blurred everyday. The more private information a reporter can get, the more headlines, interviews, and exposure they will receive. Reality television was born on people wanting to dig deep into the dirty secrets of other people’s lives. And “they” always say that if people didn’t watch it or want it then it wouldn’t succeed.

I do not agree with the road we have gone down in this arena per say, but it is the road we have chosen and we now operate within these boundaries as opposed to the more constricted boundaries of the past. I don’t like the feel of what Rapoport did, but I am not surprised by it, and not even particularly outraged by it. I view it as a man doing his job and smoothing out a line in the sand that may or may not have been intended to be permanent. This happens on daily basis in our world.

This boils down to a social commentary. We want more access and therefor those who are in the profession of giving us access feel the burden of pushing the limit and finding new ways to do so. Gone are the days of a reporter merely making suggestions of the wild antics of the big star and that being enough to wet the public’s whistle, and here are the days of tweeting “during and after” a funeral service so that the public can feel like they were there.

Here are some of the questions that have surfaced since last Friday:

Was it appropriate for Rapaport to tweet his observations from within the Temple during the liturgy? Should he have waited? Did his reportage from the service in real time move him from mourner (which he claim he was being) to an observer? Was it a disrespectful intrusion on a worship service?

Was live-tweeting any different than the traditional newspaper report that appeared later in the Globe? Did tweeting from the Temple help those not present mourn or should he have waited, put aside the device and taken in the moment? Did it matter that he was a reporter?

What do you think?

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