T Dog’s Six Pack: Boston bombing coverage edition

Before the bombLast week was a heinous one for the news media as the Boston Marathon Bombing took place – not to mention an explosion at a fertilizer plant near Waco, Texas, which killed fifteen people and injured hundreds. Chicagoans had their own problems to deal with, as heavy rains brought flooding to the area, adding to the workload for already stressed-out Chicago newsrooms.

The Boston bombing coverage provided some lowlights – but also many high points. Here are the winners and losers:


Local Boston media. Critics applauded Boston’s local news operations as they were upfront and center during the crisis – WBZ (AM and TV), WCVB, WHDH, and WFXT – not to mention all-news cable channel NECN and the Boston Globe (who temporarily dropped their paywall) and Boston Herald newspapers. All of them did an outstanding job with their coverage.  And it’s also testament to the power of over-the-air broadcasting (and that includes Chicago’s local station coverage of the heavy rains and flooding Thursday morning.) Chase Carey and other arrogant self-appointed guardians of broadcasting: I hope you’re listening.

Chicago Tribune. And kudos to the Chicago Tribune for their front-page tribute in Tuesday’s sports section to Boston.

ESPN. Most other times, the all-sports network’s SportsCenter is a chest-pounding, arrogant joke, a far cry from the Olbermann-Patrick era. But when it comes to breaking news like the Boston Marathon Bombing last Monday, SportsCenter is second to none – especially with veteran Bob Ley on the set. It also helps to have ABC News at your disposal as a valuable resource.  When it comes to covering hard news involving sports, ESPN still can’t be beat.


Cable “news” networks. The big three failed to answer the call and when they did, failed miserably. CNN should be singled out since they made the most on-air mistakes (including their announcement of a suspect in custody when one really wasn’t.) And Fox News trotted out douchebag Geraldo Rivera, like anything this asshole says adds to the conversation. Tim Goodman’s solid piece in The Hollywood Reporter on Friday should be a huge concern for those who really care about the state of journalism in America. In fact, his assessment is outright chilling.

Social Media. Much of the info coming from Twitter and other areas of the Internet was wrong (re-distributed from other sources, of course), including naming a missing student a suspect in the bombing. On the other hand, Twitter was useful for providing up-to-the minute details on the unfolding drama – especially late Thursday night into Friday morning when the hunt for the suspects went into high gear.

NBC 5 and ABC 7. On the day the bombings happened, all three networks expanded their evening newscasts a full hour to 6:30 p.m. (CT). But two local stations – NBC 5 and ABC 7, interrupted Brian Williams and Diane Sawyer, respectively to run their local newscasts with their regular formats – and their advertising intact, resuming the network coverage delayed at 6:30 p.m. Kind of jarring when a major tragedy happens and you come home and the first thing you see is a preview of a Stars-Blackhawks game on your local newscast. Props to CBS 2 (WBBM-TV) as they were only station to run their network’s news show uninterrupted followed by their local newscast, pre-empting Entertainment Tonight. Sorry WMAQ-TV and WLS-TV – you messed up big time.