In the early days following the Marathon bombings, the media made plenty of mistakes as reporters rushed to tell the story. Reports surfaced that the two suspects were under arrest when they were not. The boat in which Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found was outside the police search perimeter, then inside, then, well it’s still not clear. Tsarnaev opened fire on police surrounding the boat, then he had no gun. The bombers let their carjacking victim go, then he escaped. Reporters and security investigators alike have scrambled to figure out what happened, and overall their efforts have been quite remarkable.
While there has traditionally been plenty to fault, in this situation Greater Boston has been well served by its media. Some efforts continue to dazzle. This morning’s Boston Globe had some remarkable writing, including Eric Moscowitz’s lengthy interview with “Danny,” the car-jacking victim, and Kevin Cullen’s retelling of the events leading up to the Watertown capture on Friday. Two days ago, the Boston Herald’s Chris Cassidy’s breaking news that the Tsarnaev parents had been on welfare and that Tamarlan Tsarnaev and his wife had received benefits until 2012 added a whole other dimension. The paper continues pushing to get the records made public as people wonder whether taxpayer dollars indirectly subsidized the development of the terrorists’ plan.
Even the Boston Business Journal brought something new to our understanding in describing how the insularity of Boston’s typically too tight business and political leadership helped to insure the effectiveness of the One Boston Fund, which has now raised more than $20 million and engaged the incomparable Ken Feinberg to administer the fund. And I would be remiss not to mention Channel Five’s Ed Harding interview with David Henneberry, the Watertown boat owner who discovered the bloodied Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Stories had been rampant that Henneberry had seen the torn, blood-spattered cover of the board and had, on closer examination, found the bomber hiding in it. There was no blood, Henneberry told Harding. He was just a guy who, when lockdown was lifted, went out into his yard to look at his boat. The rest is history.
The Mass. Broadcasters Hall of Fame released a statement this week praising the radio, broadcast and cable news media for their service to the public in this tragedy. The same should rightly be said of our print brothers and sisters. Their coverage of breaking events, reconstruction of first responder experiences, retelling of victims’ stories, explication of the medical challenges for providers and patients, and more, has helped us slowly but surely come to grips with what has happened to our community. Against the traditional backdrop of herd mentality, often superficial routine work, there have been stellar contributions, for which we should be grateful in this trying time.
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