Friday, April 19, 2013

Trigger Happy News Reporting in the Midst of the Boston Marathon Bombings


First off, I want to say my thoughts and my prayers go out to the victims and loved ones of the victims in Monday's atrocious terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon.  Words certainly cannot accurately express how sad this is and how devastating this must be for those involved.  The country certainly stands side-to-side with our Bostonian brothers and sisters and I am confident the city will come out stronger on the other side, as will we all.

Like most people, I'm sure almost everyone, the day of the bombing and the following days thereafter I have been glued to my computer searching for updates on the attack.  Who did it?  What happened?  Are they close to finding someone?  All questions that circled in our minds, I'm sure, and I found myself refreshing CNN, Fox News, The Huffington Post, Boston Globe, etc. on both my computer and cell phone-when I was away from my computer.

There's one thing that's been troubling me this week and that's why I feel obliged to write about it.  And that is the shotty, piss-poor, trigger-happy and often inaccurate reporting of a lot of these media outlets this week.  I love media & journalism and I believe they are usually right on the money 99% of the time, but this week they have missed the mark more often than none.  Each media outlet is desperately trying to compete with each other to have the most up-to-date breaking news in order to drive their ratings up.  Each media outlet wants to be #1 in the ratings and be considered a leader in news and journalism.  I get it.  And it's not always the media's fault for these falsehoods.  They often get misinformation from unreliable sources, opportunistic attention hogs and other misreporting officials.  This week though, no excuse.  Here's why I think this.

1. The New York Post decided to taken it upon themselves to incorrectly print an innocent teenager on their front cover and label them as a suspect for the Boston Marathon bombings.  No sources backing them up, they just assumed it was good journalism.  Can you say LAWSUIT?  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2013/04/18/new-york-post-builds-bridge-between-rumor-and-media/

2. For #2's entry, it is not so much as fake news, only as piss-poor real-time updates.  As news websites scrambled to get their latest headlines live they fail to update the rest of their site's articles to keep up with their headers.  Example:  I've clicked on countless articles this week with headlines reading "FBI RELEASES PHOTOS OF SUSPECTS" and when the article loads it's a Kia commercial followed by a video of Obama speaking.  It's just bad news.

3. Countless retractable statements from various news sources. "SUSPECT CAUGHT!" "SAUDI PERSON OF INTEREST ARRESTED!" "NO PERSONS ARRESTED!" "NO LEADS AVAILABLE."  ....what?

4. Not so much of faulty news again here but what about those countless viral stories that are completely untrue?  Child running for Sandy Hook victims, photo shopped images, etc. that opportunists created to maliciously spread untruths.  Ugh.  Get a life.  In a world of social media, ADD attention spans, and ultra-quick information, one of the curses is the viral spreading of these lies.

These are pretty serious mistakes in the time of a serious incident and I believe that the media owes it to us to report the news accurately and unbiasedly.  Unfortunately, when I watch the news (more for entertainment than anything) I see a trend in seeing whom can top each other with more gory details, etc.

On a side-note, I do want to add that the Boston Police Department, FBI, Massachusetts State Police and other law enforcement agencies are doing a phenomenal job in handling this case.  Those guys really are heroes in my opinion and set a good example for law enforcement in other parts of the country and throughout the world.

As Forrest Gump says "I've got to find Bubba!"

That's all I have to say about that.