Processing the Boston tragedy

Jam of the week: “Just for the Night” (BMSR Remix) by Black Moth Super Rainbow

It’s been a few months since I’ve found myself glued to the news in the wake of a national tragedy. While I write this, there has been little new information gleaned about the bombings in Boston.

Shaky camera footage of the bloodstained streets of Boston and first hand interviews won’t get us any closer to either finding peace or bringing whoever is responsible for the bombings to justice. At this point, the only thing we can really learn from this situation so far is how news outlets reacted to the news.

I became aware of the Boston bombings while listening to NPR. Of course, the first reports of the bombing came through Twitter, but but I happened to catch the first reports on the radio. I have to give them credit, because as the story was breaking, the host urged listeners to take everything they hear about the bombings with a grain of salt. It’s nice to see a news outlet learn from the cumulative mistakes the news media have made during previous breaking news events.

On the other side was the New York Post. The initial reports I heard on the number of people killed in the explosions was two, then three people. Many hours before the official number was even increased by one, the Post said the number of dead was at 12. Additionally, the Post reported that a Saudi national had been detained as a suspect in the bombings. In truth, the was taken for questioning as a witness, not a suspect.

CNN was quick to throw out the “T” word. After President Obama spoke during the late afternoon on Monday, and notably did not call the bombings an act of terrorism, Wolf Blitzer called it as such. While it’s very possible that the bombings were an act of terror, it seems disingenuous to call it as such before government officials do. The timing probably affected my opinion of his decision. Obama’s statement revealed nothing new or unexpected, and I was reaching that point where I was tired of hearing the talking heads say the same things on repeat.

I saw a tweet today that said something along the lines of “Twitter is at its best five minutes after tragedy and at its worst in the hours after.” That’s because Twitter is an amazing resource to send out information quickly, and also a dumping ground for the opinions of the uninformed. Hours after seeing the shocking initial photos of the bombings, I was shocked again when I saw people jumping to blame Muslims or to say that the bombings were a conspiracy. So basically, I go through the same process of gradually having a news source wear on me after a tragedy with twitter, but the process just goes faster. Thank you, Internet.

I still have not fully processed what I saw yesterday. I saw images of a man being whisked away in a wheelchair with his legs bloody and frayed. I saw people running out to help others in the midst of a deadly situation. I saw some news outlets do the best they could in the aftermath, and others not so much. I’m sure once more information comes to light, I and others will be able to process what happened, but take care and don’t rush to conclusions until we know more.