The manhunt for the second Boston Marathon bombing suspect garnered near round-the-clock news coverage. Reporters converged on Watertown, Mass. to bring the latest information as it happened. Experts analyzed almost every single whisper of a rumor for deeper meaning and context; it’s what journalists do.
Many viewers lambasted news organizations for hasty coverage. Some outlets reported inaccuracies. Others broadcasted a little too soon before verification. But on the whole, I think the news did a good job.
I often reference the very scientific — I use that term facetiously, since you can’t hear my tone of voice — online poll at our website www.LakeNewsOnline.com. The weekly poll asked how lake area residents thought the news outlets performed during the crisis. The verdict was not good: more than half of voters thought the Boston Marathon bombing coverage was riddled with errors and that news networks did a poor job.
It’s not a well-kept secret that the public at large doesn’t trust journalists. Since I’m a relative newcomer to the world of reporting, I don’t know how to gain back the trust of people jaded by the system. I know how to report facts, verify them, ask the underlying questions, ask why, then ask for a differing opinion. That’s the basics of journalism.
On the whole, I don’t think that’s changed much in the hundreds of years news organizations have been around.
I think the world has changed. Sure, there are a few bad reporters that don’t do the job properly.
But look at the winners of the Pulitzer Prizes, announced within the last month. The Sun-Sentinel in South Florida did a remarkable exposé on police officers speeding off-duty, causing grave car wrecks.
The breaking news coverage of wildfires and the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting by the Denver Post was absolutely outstanding.
We live in a 24-hour news world. We expect the newest information, right now, completely correct. And we want a video of what’s happening. We want to see photos from the event. For those engaged on social media, we want it there, too.
And we want it for free.
Here’s a little hint about journalism: journalists do it. And journalists are people. People who, occasionally, and accidentally make mistakes, tire out, get sick, and, truthfully, sometimes don’t care.
I don’t want sympathy for being a journalist, I chose it. What I want people to do is understand that there are limits. There are only 40 hours in a work week.
Don’t give up on journalism.
Page 2 of 2 - I know sometimes people don’t get it right. The Lake Sun has had some missteps, I’m adult enough to admit that.
But we care about our community. We try to foster democracy. We take pride in showing off the accomplishments of are youth. We want to keep you abreast on changes in the community. We track crime to keep our area safe from harm. We want to do a good job. We know more about this community than most.
As long as you don’t give up on journalism, we won’t give up on the community.