Crisis Coverage of Boston Marathon Carnage

This is a followup to my previous post about crisis coverage and changing news preferences which I wrote a week before this year’s Boston Marathon. A terrorist planted two bombs near the finish line of Boston Marathon this year. To date, the bombs killed three people. Seventeen more are in critical condition. Hundreds more were injured.

Initial Reaction: Turn on the TV!

As a teenager, one of my dreams was to run the Boston Marathon. So the bombings saddened me greatly. After learning of them, I rushed home and turned on the television. My DVR captures both the local and national news each night. Within the first half hour of the watching the national television crisis coverage, I saw the same sickening scenes of carnage replayed at least twenty times. The local crisis coverage was a replay of the national, but twice as long.  As I watched the recordings, I found myself fast-forwarding through the repetitive horror shows. They felt like a nightmare from which I could not escape.

Second Reaction: Revulsion

In the four days following the event, there have been countless reruns of the original blasts, endless shots of the carnage, hundreds of interviews with first responders and spectators, and absolutely nothing new in terms of actual news.

Inevitably, the coverage makes me recall those terrible first few days after 9/11. The countless reruns of the event, the endless shots of the carnage, hundreds of interviews with first responders … and absolutely nothing new in terms of actual news. It all seems so familiar.

Third Reaction: Switch to Digital Coverage

This time, however, I’ve rationed my news consumption. I find myself watching far less crisis coverage on television. I rely instead on the AP Mobile News app on my iPhone. It pings me when there’s a new development in the case; I read the lead of the story; and then I return to my regularly scheduled life. No disrespect is intended for the victims of the bombing, the people of Boston or runners everywhere. I’m sure they all wish they could do the same.

Looking back at my previous post about televised crisis coverage, it feels strangely prophetic at this moment. The smaller screen that I now rely on has changed my emotional reaction to events. I am certainly no less shocked by what happened last Monday. However, I do NOT feel as though I’m being swept into the vortex of the horror show. And I do NOT feel as though a terrorist’s actions have seized control of my life. The medium that I now rely on has definitely changed my emotional reaction to the event.

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