Handy, timely info, if you happen to be a fugitive

WLTX is all over this story this morning, through various media:

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WLTX) – Newberry deputies say they’re searching for four murder suspects on the run.

Deputies say a state trooper saw the three white males and one white female at the upper rest area of I-26, and a chase ensued into the City of Newberry. The suspects are teenagers.

A deputy spiked the vehicle’s tires and the four suspects then took off on foot at state highway 34 and US 176. Multiple weapons including high powered rifles were found inside the vehicle. Some of the weapons were stolen.

Authorities say the three men were all last seen wearing dark pants; one with an orange shirt, one with a white t-shirt, and one with no shirt. The woman was last seen in dark pants and a white t-shirt.

The four suspects are wanted from Greeneville, Tennessee and have been on the run since 11:00PM Wednesday….

But I had to wonder if this was just one Tweetful of information more than we needed:


But hey, these fugitives are teenagers! What do they know about smartphones or social media? Or Google Maps?

Nice enterprise on the part of the reporter. Way to stay on top of the story. But this is one instance in which it might have been good to have an editor involved, saying, Hold on, let’s think about this…

Or not. Thoughts? Your opinion would turn on whether you think it’s a journalist’s duty to report everything of interest, or whether you think he or she has a duty to public safety as a citizen. Within the news biz, I’ve heard impassioned arguments both ways.

6 thoughts on “Handy, timely info, if you happen to be a fugitive

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    Then again, if you’re abandoning your vehicle and taking off on foot and trying to go to ground with multiple law enforcement agencies on your trail, maybe the first thing you should do would be to break your cell phone and remove and destroy the battery, and throw the pieces into a lake.

    You know, even though I know that would be smart, I would find it hard to do that. And not just because I love my iPhone. I would find it hard to give up the access to a wealth of information. And when I was under stress, I’d find it even harder.

    Hey, I thought I’d go ahead and comment on this, since it didn’t seem to interest any of y’all…

  2. Kathryn Fenner

    I believe it is extremely irresponsible of WIS, and surprising, since most of their coverage seems to focus inside Beltline and this side of the river!
    The public does not need to know this, Scoop!

  3. Mark Stewart

    They revealed the command post, not where the cops were searching. Look at the News crew standing in the background; this is the coffee and donut station. Of course the kids – criminals – knew where they had crashed their vehicle. The news stations gave nothing away.

    Sounds like this is a sad story of youth run amok – or derailed. At least in three cases.

    They were fleeing to Myrtle Beach for God’s sake.

  4. Norm Ivey

    I get your principle here, but in practice I wonder how much difference it makes in this case. What are the odds that one of these fugitives would be following this reporter? Even with the whole six degrees thing, I find it doubtful they’d ever hear about the command post.

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