Walking the Thin Line


This past Sunday was the second Boston Marathon after The Boston Marathon. That Marathon, of course, was the one that will be marked by the memory of those who lost their lives, the courage of those who responded first and the resilience of those who were injured. As our country moves further away from the events of that day, it is important that we continue to discuss what happened, not only to honor those who were most affected, but also to answer important questions that were raised during those five days in April, 2013.
There were reports by multiple news and social media sites like NBC News, the New York Post and Reddit falsely reporting the identity and condition of the suspects. These were immediately consumed and spread like wildfire throughout the Internet without hesitation or adequate fact checking. A cover by the New York Post depicting two men with a headline of “Bag Men: Feds seek this duo pictured at Boston Marathon” was so egregious, the individuals who were depicted sued the newspaper for libel.
Everyone involved in these incidents, the reporters and those who consumed the reports, must take a long look at their responsibility and how to avoid these situations in the future.  How can media outlets balance their desire to keep up with the 24/7 news cycle with the need to ensure the news they report is accurate and responsible? On the other hand, how can those who participate in social media and consume news balance their desire to know everything immediately against incentivizing the media to take their time to ensure what they report is true? These questions are not going away and will only become more important with the 2016 Presidential Election just around the corner.