Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Opinion

April 23, 2013

We need to be careful where we get our news

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — I had a love-hate relationship with my profession last week.

It started with frustration over an AP photo from the Boston Marathon bombing. The photo in question showed a man in a wheelchair being wheeled away from the site of the bombing. The caption for the photo didn’t give the man’s name and that frustrated me to no end.

I thought it was very distasteful to show a closeup of a man severely injured and not take the time to get the man’s name. I was concerned for his wellbeing and had no way to find out if he was OK or not. I was fearful of using a photo of someone that may have ended up dying in the blast. I thought to do so would be classless. So I didn’t use it. In fact, none of the papers in this newsgroup used the photo — I’m happy to report.

It continued with all of the erroneous reports from — primarily — TV news saying there were more bombs than there were ... and that the suspects were caught ... and the use of photos of people that may be the suspects. One such case had the New York Post showing front-page photos of two men they said were suspects in the case. As it turns out, they were not.

The race to be first, it would seem, has replaced the need to be right for many news organizations. Just as the desire for sensationalism has replaced any semblance of decorum among many news organizations.

Another example of news-gone-awry was the alleged release of “the suspects” names via a Boston police scanner — followed by several Twitter posts with those names — followed by thousands of retweets of those posts. Within minutes the names of two men unconnected to the case went from a police scanner in Boston to the entirety of the internet due to the rapid response of social media.

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