Before a meteor becomes a meteor, when they are floating in space they are asteroids, or if they're small, "meteoroids." But to be honest, scientific accuracy to one side, if this really happened, I wonder how many news anchors would bother understanding the difference between asteroids, meteors, meteroids and meteorites anyway.
So, these "meteors" start hitting off the coasts of main cities around the world (hint: they're meteorites now). What's more, before they splash down, scientists are pointing out on the TV that these objects are "slowing down" before they hit. "Hm, that's a bit odd," everyone thinks. At last, some mild panic and the Marines are mobilized. Something is looking fishy on the beaches.
This is when the fun begins. Sunbathers run, aliens appear out of the surf, reporters are shot at and mass hysteria finally takes hold. The "textbook" military invasion under way.
I think this portion of the movie was handled pretty well. Although it could have done with a little more suspense, it's certainly not deserving of the crappy press it has received. Plus, I was looking out for science atrocities, but so far, that was at a minimum. I think the reasons for this was that Liebesman didn't want to get into the reasons why aliens were invading, he wanted to show us - with acute realism - that they are invading. No time for explaining. And I think that tactic worked well.