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Boston Bombing Coverage

by on April 20, 2013

Over the past few days, we have seen the media try to keep up with the unfolding events in Boston. Certain outlets did a better job than others. Some station’s coverage was laughably false. Others danced around confirming anything until the end.

Broadcast journalists were eating their words, bloggers were becoming detectives looking through pictures of Marathon Monday, and online media posted a lot of pictures both from the crime scene and from a deserted Boston.

This event and this coverage has brought about a lot of questions when it comes to mainstream media and the public. Who can be a journalist? What role is the media supposed to play in crime solving? Where is the line between journalist/public/and detective? In an ongoing investigation, what is appropriate information to divulge to the public?


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  1. Felicia Cohen permalink

    It has always been unclear to me whether or not “broadcast journalists” should be considered reporters. Sure, some of them go on site to find details of a story, but it doesn’t seem like many of them do any serious investigation. Rather, it seems like they are reading of a projector or being spoon-fed an interview.

    Perhaps this is the reason why the reporting covering Boston in the news was so shoddy, because it was puppet journalists, being told what to do by their corporations, instead of journalists dedicated to uncovering a story.

  2. I think the media may have overstepped their boundaries by becoming “investigators”. Although reporters were doing their job by informing the public of information they had at hand, they crossed from journalism to what seemed like gossip. Reporters became sloppy with how they handled the information they were given. We went over John King’s mishap of reporting that a suspect had been arrested, when in fact no one had made an arrest, and I think this is a good example of how the media just wanted to get news out first, rather than play it safe and make sure that their sources were providing accurate information.

    The public followed this story closely, which boosted ratings for most networks, but blogs and social media sites became more popular too. The amount of information on this bombing that was on the Internet was staggering. I felt like I found out more from Facebook and Reddit than I did from watching the news. Not to say that Facebook and Reddit were very accurate with most of the rumors going around, but that was to be expected. I don’t think the bloggers and people contributing to sites like Reddit were journalists though, because they were mostly speculating on what might have happened, and who might have been to blame. They did not do the background work that reporting takes, but then again it doesn’t seem like many of the actual reporters did this either.

    In ongoing investigations like this, I think it is important for journalists to be careful with their words, and take responsibility for their sources. We all saw how major networks and newspapers lost credibility from reporting things that ended up being false. It is definitely better to wait until the FBI has released an official statement, but I understand why reporters to try to jump the gun and have the information first, whether it turns out to be right or wrong to gain more of an audience, and to be the network or paper that was first to figure it out.

  3. One thing that really stood out to me from the public covering the event was people tweeting a play by play of what Boston area police scanners were saying. It’s pretty easy to go online or find an app where you can listen to scanners from across the country, but I do not believe this to be a common practice and definitely not something that is published as a way to inform the public. I didn’t see any credible news organizations doing this, but there was one fairly popular blogger that I saw doing it via Twitter, which mean it went out to his nearly 100,000 followers. I thought this was over stepping boundaries because it could impair the work of police offers, which puts a lot of people in danger, especially during the events that happened early Friday morning. It is weird that we live in a day and age when police have to ask people to stop tweeting and reporting what they are staying over their scanners, but I think it was crossing the line by publishing reports that were going on over the scanner.

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