In hearing on Wetterling crime, a new level of detail

If you’re reading news tweets from the hearing for the killer of Jacob Wetterling this afternoon, you might get the sense that we’ve turned another corner in journalism with the removal of another filter.

Twitter doesn’t come with editors so the horrifying particulars of the last moments of young Jacob’s life at the hands of Danny Heinrich, who got away with murder, are not “broadcast” with trigger warnings. Graphic doesn’t even begin to describe the details. They are disgusting to an unimaginable degree. We can never unsee, nor unhear them.

It’s a necessary process in the justice system. Confessions must be on the record. In a crime like this, the devil really is in the details.

“How does the world continue to spin as we listen to this?” one media member, not in the court, tweeted.

The image of the Wetterlings having to sit in the courtroom and listen brings a new, deeper heartbreak to the story.

It will be interesting to see how many of these details broadcast on Twitter make it into the final stories on the more traditional news platforms.

Perhaps there’ll be debates in local newsrooms about the level of detail that must now accompany a story such as this and the extent to which the public must hear them. Would we be as shocked about the crime if the telling of it didn’t use such specificity? If not, why not? If so, then what is to be accomplished by providing them?

It’s a debate for us in the audience, too.