Media Coverage of Boston Marathon Bombings

Reporters lining the corner of Dartmouth Street outside of Copley Square in Boston.
Photo Credit / Victoria Krukenkamp
Reporters lining the corner of Dartmouth Street outside of Copley Square in Boston.
Photo Credit / Victoria Krukenkamp



After the two bombs went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2013, and the unrelated fire at the JFK Library in Boston, there was an expected amount of confusion among the media about the details of the story.

Even the Boston Police tentatively called the library fire an explosion that was related to the marathon bombs during a press conference, and warned the public about the possibility of other related explosions.

The confusion of reports and circumstances after an attack like the one that occurred on Monday are to be expected… but what about what happened on the subsequent days?

The story took over the media, and several stations reported on nothing else for days.  Yet the investigation surrounding the bombs released little to no information.  So what did the networks use to fill that time?  Speculation, breaking news from unreliable sources, and replaying the explosions over and over for the nation to react to.

As the days progressed, the amount of information reported by the media that was inaccurate was sickening.  Wednesday, April 17, 2013, the media outlets jumped on a tidbit of information and squeezed every assumption they possibly could out of it.  Networks reported that there was a suspect in the case… no there was an arrest in the case… no there was no arrest but there was a suspect.

The New York Post even published photos of two men in the crowd carrying backpacks under the headline “Bag Men” before the official release of photos of the suspects by the FBI.  The New York Post didn’t necessarily point the finger at their subjects as suspects, but the young men’s’ guilt was implied.  The New York Post was wrong.

After the FBI released official photos of the actual suspects at around 5pm on Thursday April 18, 2013, the networks continued their relentless coverage.  Later that evening, CNN’s Erin Burnett broke the story of a shooting on the campus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), that was suspected to be unrelated to the bombings, and quickly switched her coverage to a newly released photo of suspect 2 and the man who took the photo.

As it turns out, the MIT shooting was related.  So was the timing of the release of the new photo a coincidence?  Unlikely.  The release of the photo was obviously to distract the media leader CNN from the events at MIT, and the chase of the Boston Marathon Bombing suspects that ensued.

Is this what the television media has become?  There is no accountability with breaking news.  Inaccurate reports are eventually corrected, with no detriment to the character and reliability of the reporter and network.  Newspapers (technically, that’s what the New York Post is) publish speculation that looks like accusation.  What are the only consequences there?  Oh, just the safety of the wrongly identified teenagers living in Boston.

Most appallingly, the fact that this happens has become such a part of society that police have learned how to handle and distract the media in order to control the circus that ensues when a new story breaks.

And now that one suspect is caught and in the hospital, and the other is deceased, has the media abandoned their non-stop coverage and invasion of Boston?  Absolutely not!  Coverage continued through the weekend, and media outlets were still stationed all over Boston, Watertown, and Cambridge.

What are they filling the time with now?  Speculation over the arrest and forthcoming charges for and emotional pieces remembering the victims.  The cycle never ends.


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