The horrific bombing of the Boston Marathon finishing line was timed to detonate at four hours after the start of the race which was expected and did coincide with numerous amateur runners completing the race and their friends and families waiting to congratulate them. The bombers’ plan to injure and possibly murder as many average people in order to maximize terror was successful in targeting average people and getting huge amounts of coverage by television and news cameras. The one failure was the striking terror in the hearts of the people at the scene of the terrorist strike. Instead what was witnessed was Americans at their best with people who were uninjured not running from the scene but running into the heart of the disaster area tending to the injured applying first aid and even using pieces of their clothing to apply pressure bandages and even using belts as makeshift tourniquets. What was exemplified was the best of Americans and humanity in a crisis situation with these brave people almost immediately assisting each other and not waiting for the first responders giving the world a taste of how not to be cowed by a terror threat and showing disregard for anything other than helping people who were for the most part total strangers. We witnessed people literally giving the shirt off their backs and the belts from their trousers. This is not meant to take anything away from the first responders who also arrived quickly and wasted no time rushing into the heart of the confusion and establishing a frenetic order and began transport of the injured to waiting hospital personnel who had prepared the necessary extra trauma and emergency supplies and beds to accommodate the disaster.
Unfortunately, the same praises cannot be lauded on either the mainstream media or social media both of which were full of conjecture, conspiracies and the entire host of misinformation. The number of people espousing their own hatreds blaming the government, secret clandestine organizations, or any group of people imaginable in Tweets or on Facebook were disgusting and gave examples of the worst in people. The only redeeming facts were those who derided those posting such conspiracies or assigning blame as a venue to castigate their own bigotries. Where the hatreds appearing on social media in not something new but the mere extent of these postings is what was somewhat alarming. The misinformation spread by the mainstream media prior to any actual facts is an entirely different animal. The race by the different new networks and departments to form theories and postulations as to who was behind the bombing was revealing to their prejudices and biases. The number of times there were claims of breaking news only to be followed later by more breaking news each one contradicting the previous startling statement. News reporting, especially by the news agencies that people and the public depend on for facts, should act with more restraint and discipline instead of acting in such an uncontrolled and amateurish fashion. While it is understandable that each news department has a desire to be the first to get the news right, but shouldn’t getting the news right be the first principle? What good is being first to be wrong? Apparently, the news sources placed more emphasis on making conjecture as representing news as long as it was first and might even be the first to finally get it correct. Between reporting every rumor with breathless excitement and expressing their personal biases as honest news the mainstream media managed to further destroy any semblance of trust which had possibly remained. It was my personal experience that the most trustworthy news sources ended up being some select foreign press and media sources which I have previously found to have the patience to wait for facts before jumping onto a story, any story, as long as it is a new story. Maybe they will take a lesson from this fiasco and will learn to actually verify the facts before running before the cameras only to have to retract reports as the truth eventually emerges. And may they please learn that personal conjecture is never good news and only makes them appear more amateurish than the average poster on social media. We should and do expect more from our media and hopefully they will grow and learn that actual facts are news and opinions and guessing is not doing anybody any favors, especially in an emergency situation when so many are seeking answers and expecting the plain and simple truth from their news reporting. As the old Dragnet theme stated, “The facts, just the facts.”
Beyond the Cusp