[T]here was a full-on frenzy as thousand upon thousands of tweets poured out, many celebrating new media's victory in trouncing old media. It was all so shockingly new and the pitch was so high and it was so late at night on one of the craziest days in memory. That Redditors might have identified the bomber hours before anyone but law enforcement seemed like amazing redemption for people who'd supported Reddit's crowdsourcing efforts.
Hughes himself, the primary source of the information on Twitter, tweeted, "If Sunil Tripathi did indeed commit this #BostonBombing, Reddit has scored a significant, game-changing victory." And then later, he continued, "Journalism students take note: tonight, the best reporting was crowdsourced, digital and done by bystanders. #Watertown."
Within a few hours, however, NBC's Phillips had confirmed with his sources that two Chechnyan brothers were the primary suspects in the case. Their names and stories came out quickly. This horrible deed of misidentification ended mercifully quickly. Apologies were made.
Journalism students should still take note, of course - this is stuff you learn the first week of class. Don't make assumptions. Stuff from the police scanner is unconfirmed and should not be reported. Check and check and check your sources.