First, it was, “They may or may not have someone in custody.” Then, they had a federal source saying they had a suspect in custody heading to the Federal Court House. At the same time, other news sources said they had no confirmed information on a suspect in custody. Then the explications started to come: there was a misunderstanding, and a few hours later, everyone was back to replaying the shaky bombing videos and shots of people crying. We rely on the news so much that if someone publishes false information, we’re not about to turn off the TV if there are bombs going off in the street.
With breaking news, everyone needs to know what’s going on as soon as possible because they are waiting for information right that second because people are being attacked. And when people are trying to get things done, it can be daunting trying to release new information that will be seen by a majority of the country. Even The Equinox can recognize its few, minor errors in breaking news, but if a mass murderer suspect was in jeopardy, we would never risk information we were not able to attribute to someone of authority.
What happened on that Monday within the news media was such a mess it was hard to trust anyone. One news station even went as far as to say the suspect in question was a brown-skinned man. In a situation where thousands of people are waiting to hear news pertaining to someone they care about, race shouldn’t be the issue being misconstrued with timely information. What was important to recognize from this day were the few news sources that stuck by the truth: that no individual was in custody. It may seem small and obvious, but the news folk who wait until it’s safe are the ones looking out for all of us.
The ones that are not looking out for the greater good so much are the certain news stations who strive to be the first to break any type of news that people would be interested in knowing. Although many sources were anxious to report that there was a suspect, there in fact was no suspect in custody on the Monday of the marathon–yet people believed this to be true because someone said it on TV. The FBI even released a statement later that day that said they were asking the media to exercise caution and attempt to verify information through appropriate official channels before reporting. If there was a worst way to feel ashamed of your work, this might be it. If no one noticed, the FBI told the journalists to just do their job correctly.
Can we imagine if all journalists were responsible and sensitive to these terrible situations? If everyone only reported what they knew was credible information and acted cautiously during breaking news, maybe we could trust all our news sources a little more.
The Equinox continues to strive to be a reliable and credible news source as well as a voice for the students. It’s up to us to uphold the beliefs we assume in our superiors, that, as it is stated in our mission: to stimulate high standards in the practice of journalism.