Friday, April 19, 2013

To the News Outlets: Don't Cry Wolf

ABC News is reporting that the government has caught the second suspect in the Boston terrorist attack. The first, his brother, is now dead.

I quite badly want this to be true. What the people of Boston and its suburbs have been experiencing is terrorism at its very worst: they are gripped in fear, the area on lockdown, the streets empty and the people told to stay indoors. I so badly want this nightmare to be over. For Boston, and for America.

However, we've heard this story before, so I will wait to hear from the authorities before I believe it.

I think the news media has, with a few exceptions, behaved badly in this tragedy. Constant misinformation and false reports. It reminds me of when President Reagan was shot, and no one seemed to know anything. He was fine, having been saved by the Secret Service; he had a heart attack; he was being taken in to the hospital as a precaution; is he shot or isn't he?

At least back then, they had the excuse of poor telecommunications.

That is no longer a valid excuse.

In the effort to be "The First" or "The Exclusive," they've caused false hope, panic, confusion, irritation and disillusionment.

I believe that when this this is all well and truly over, the media needs to seriously consider where they went wrong and how it can be avoided in the future. What they have accomplished here is to make people trust news outlets less...and that's a big problem in an emergency.

We all learned not to cry wolf when we were kids. It is a lesson, I feel, some need to revisit...and learn again.

Putting away my soapbox now...

Update: the FBI has confirmed that the second suspect has been taken alive.

Let's all continue to keep Boston in our hearts & prayers. The search is over. Now the healing must begin.

Keep their families in your thoughts & prayers.



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