Now that a bad chapter for Boston and America is over, it’s time to look at some of the media coverage. I’ll do it all in bullet form and try to do it all in one sitting.
- First, the good from the week. Local channels in Boston really got the job done. WBZ, WCVB, WHDH and WFXT all provided bang-up coverage and didn’t fall into the trap of pack journalism. They had reporters throughout the area and kept digging for information. Reporters like Kathy Curran and Jack Harper of WCVB, Adam Williams of WHDH, Jim Armstrong, Christina Hager and Joe Shortsleeve of WBZ all provided solid information and showed their experience of being in the local market. WBZ anchor Jack Williams wasn’t afraid to offer an opinion during the coverage calling those responsible for the bombings on Monday, “S.O.B’s” and said as he signed off after a long shift, “Boston will go on. And we’ll get ‘em.” In addition, the stations provided their coverage online to computers, mobiles and tablets, expanding their audience beyond the Boston market. The stations acquitted themselves very well.
- The Boston Globe opened their site from behind the dreaded paywall to all readers and brought forth excellent reporting and writing throughout the week. They did have one hiccup in reporting on Wednesday that a suspect had been arrested, but after that, it recovered and continued to provide tremendous coverage. For an institution that has been maligned over recent management decisions and almost closing a couple of years ago, the Globe stepped up to show that it can report with the best of them. Here’s hoping that the Globe learned a lesson in this new day and age and will adjust with the times. It will bring back the paywall next week, but it probably picked up a lot of new readers as a result.
- Also WBZ Radio, the only newsradio station in town did very well in its reporting. Having listened extensively during the week, the station should win awards for its coverage.
- On Marathon Monday, ESPN’s Bob Ley and Jeremy Schaap anchored the bombing coverage on SportsCenter. Tapping the resources of ABC News and dispatching Steve Levy to Boston, ESPN gave viewers some tremendous coverage. Whenever there’s news that affects the sports world, Bob Ley is the person you want to offer some perspective.
- For network television, CBS and NBC both had extensive coverage. Anchors Scott Pelley and Brian Williams led their networks to understated and restrained coverage throughout. Impressed with both men, Pelley and Williams did not go off-kilter as some network anchors have done in the past. They made appearances in Boston and asked the right questions of their correspondents. In addition, NBC’s Kerry Sanders gave some solid observations while he was in Watertown in the hours after a shootout early Friday morning to the arrest of the suspect later that evening.
- Now to the bad. The cable news stations seemed to be on a one day delay in their reporting. CNN led the charge in reporting a suspect had been arrested on Wednesday. Fox did as well. But it was Megyn Kelly of Fox who began to question whether that was correct and eased Fox News out of that quandary while CNN continued to stay on course. And when a former FBI director shot down John King’s report on CNN, the network then went to debate whether their sources hung them out to dry. It was some of the worst television since ESPN2 allowed Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith to debate full-time. Jon Stewart of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show who has been doing numerous takedowns of CNN over the last 12 months, did another one on Wednesday night calling the network, “The Human Centipede of News. “
- MSNBC seemed to be stuck in political debate and the implications of which side would benefit from an arrest. The network should just give up on reporting news and just stay with political debate.
- While social media has some bad sides, it seemed to be quicker on information than the cable networks. Some of it was wrong, but it was quickly corrected. Whether people were listening to the Boston Police Scanner or local reporters using it to offer information or Boston’s Mayor Tom Menino using it to declare the suspect was caught, Twitter was the medium of record. It’s true. The Boston Police Department’s Twitter feed offered up to date information on the Watertown situation to the one tweet declaring an arrest. Who knew a computer scroll would be “must see?”
Overall, the entire week was a lesson in journalism. And who would have thought that cable news, once the bastion of reporting would become the media dinosaur?