Here's why it took us 24 hours to report on ex-Mason student suspected in Charlottesville attack

In summation: Ethics, legality and credibility
Here's why it took us 24 hours to report on ex-Mason student suspected in Charlottesville attack
Posted at 11:17 AM, Aug 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-16 11:34:42-04

CINCINNATI -- I first saw the social media post around 7 p.m. Sunday evening.

After a challenging day in which our team reported on a local connection to the man accused of running over protestors in Charlottesville, we had another possible connection to violence in those protests.

Senior Justice Writer at the New York Daily News Shaun King had asked for Twitter followers to help identify individuals shown in photographs committing violence in Charlottesville. King claimed that one of the men in the photos was Daniel Borden from Mason.

Our team then began to gather information on Borden. Who was he? Was he in fact a suspect? We found out that Borden attended school in Mason, no longer lives there, and has been accused of threatening fellow students in the past.

However, we did not have any official confirmation that Borden was actually someone law enforcement considered a suspect in the Charlottesville beating.

Our senior leadership team, led by myself and news director Chip Mahaney, had a series of discussions about what we should report and when.

King and his legion of social media amateur sleuths already misidentified one man. In past violent incidents -- like the Atlanta Olympics bombing and Sandy Hook shooting -- the media had misidentified suspects.

We felt a responsibility to gain confirmation from someone official that Borden was charged with a crime or at the very least he is a suspect. Without that confirmation – despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of people had seen Borden's photo on social media – we did not report the allegations against him.

We received several complaints that we should be reporting on the accusations against Borden.

On Tuesday morning, local police departments said they were looking into the Borden situation because of the many calls they had received. Our senior leadership team met again and determined that, based on this new information, we should report the allegations against Borden. We included the caveat that in the past some of the people named in these social media post had been innocent.

Later in the day, police in Charlottesville confirmed to reporter Hillary Lake that Borden is a "person of interest" in the attack on Deandre Harris. We updated our story to reflect this information.

We will continue to gather information on Borden and other local ties to Charlottesville, but it is our responsibility to our community to exercise caution and use our journalistic principles to make sure we are fair and ethical in our reporting.

Just because social media activists or even other media outlets are reporting something, it does not mean that meets the threshold for WCPO to report that information.

We value your trust and our ethics; that's why we work so hard to make sure we get the story right.

As always, I welcome your feedback.

Mike Canan is the editor in chief of You can email Mike at