Covering the Coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings

In infographic form, Hilary "Chartgirl" Sargent breaks down the highs and lows of the media coverage of this week's attacks in Boston.


  1. A couple of additions/modifications to this:

    WBUR also succumbed to the “suspect is in custody” untruth. They have who I consider to be the best crime reporter in Boston, David Boeri. He reported, based on sources within the courthouse – where he was – that they’d been instructed to prepare for an afternoon court session. In light of that, I think the “suspect is in custody” problem was overblown. Real, but overblown.

    Also, the Globe was pretty amazing Thursday night after the killing of the MIT police officer. They send multiple reporters, all of whom live tweeted what they were seeing, with Globe editors tweeting about who was where (as the scene shifted from Cambridge to Watertown) and who to follow. Reporters also were engaged with folks who were replying. One Globe reporter, who didn’t understand that the Cambridge Police had been auto-tweeting incidents for some time, thought a Police tweet of a suspect package actually meant something, when the police had reported dozens of those. When I pointed that out, she loudly corrected herself on Twitter. I don’t know how a mainstream news organization performs better in this environment under any circumstances, let alone a wild chase of alleged cop-killing, car-jacking terrorists.

  2. I think the weirdest thing out of this is that Fox news actually was the least bad of the major cable news channels throughout this whole thing.

  3. The reddit thing is really not fair. Most of reddit was focusing on the massive live update threads which covered the WHOLE story in almost minute by minute pieces. It was the best and clearest place to find info on the story.

    Here is the first link in the chain:

    There was also a great live update thread on the Bombing itself:

    For both of these events there was NOWHERE else you could go to get such detailed reporting with everything sourced. 

    1. Reddit is becoming a convenient scapegoat for everyone involved in traditional media. Reddit has several million active users, with only a tiny fraction of the several thousand following the “findthebombers” sub-reddit involved with the Sunil Tripathi fiasco, which was also fed by 4chan and Twitter and who knows what else, and even in those threads there were plenty of people asking everyone else to calm the fuck down.

      What gave it legs was his name being spoken over police radio, so the question is, did it become a lead from social media, or did it become a lead from traditional media copying social media? After all, when CBS made a story with a fraudulent document, we didn’t focus the shaming on the makers of the fraudulent document.

      What’s not being reported is how the Sunil as “leftist terrorist wearing a Che shirt” meme exploded across right-wing social media, and was probably the vector for it crossing into the “real world”. I first learned of it because wingnuts were posting it all over newspaper comment threads.

  4. It’s so useful to get meta-analysis of the media – with these events, we need to stay right on the razor’s edge to know what came out and what gets changed.  Nowadays we could track the WMD theme and trace it to source, potentially invalidating it before $9,000,998,001 gazillion trillion goes into the filthy pockets of Halliburton shareholders.

  5. Don’t forget the CNN reporter who said “We hear barking- I don’t know if it’s canines…”

    1. Ecuba trista, misera e cattiva,
      poscia che vide Polissena morta,
      e del suo Polidoro in su la riva
      del mar si fu la dolorosa accorta,
      forsennata latrò sì come cane…

  6. And now we’re covering the coverage of the coverage.

    I’m tempted to to start a blog and cover the coverage of the coverage of the coverage.

    And now “coverage” doesn’t sound like a real word anymore. THANKS OBAMA

  7. I’m impressed how completely this story has eclipsed the oil spill in Mayflower. Like it never even happened!

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