The power of mass media has continuously grown throughout the last 50 years. Today, we live in a society that can be easily influenced by the media because of our constant need for information and truth. The media undoubtedly controls how we perceive certain things. They can impact our behaviour and decision making before we even form our own opinion. That is why last April’s ‘Boston Bombing’ was such a unique media crime case. The media presented so much information, so quickly that we as a society didn’t have much time to comprehend all the details. The Boston Marathon bombing was a landmark news event not only because of the scale of tragedy but also the role the media played in reporting, analysing and understanding the events of April 15, 2013.
At 2:50pm, two powerful bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, turning a day usually filled with happiness and accomplishment into a scene of screams and confusion. The blasts killed three people, injured over 200 and sent the entire city of Boston into a panic. No one knew what to expect or think until the word “terrorism” was used. This sent the city into a frenzy, sparking memories of September 11th, 2011. Days later two suspects hijack a car at gunpoint in Cambridge, Massachusetts, taking the driver as a hostage who will later escape. The hijackers, later identified as Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, flee as a chase ensues during which the suspects toss explosives and exchange gunfire with police. Tamerlan dies after the gunfight, while his brother eludes authorities. After the city lockdown is lifted, a Watertown resident proceeds to go outside to check on his boat parked in the backyard and notices a bloody flap dangling in the wind. He alerts the police which leads to the eventual capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
This case seemed to have it all when it came to media tools but the most important and misleading that came out of the tragedy were sensationalism and speculation. I will exam both of these and show how they effected the media coverage of this event.
As horrific as these events were, the media’s sensationalism of the case prompted more panic and caution then what needed to be warranted. After his capture and before receiving notice of his Miranda rights, Dzhokhar told police that he and his brother had acted alone and that they were not linked to any terrorist groups. Yet, during the manhunt the media reported countless times that this was a terrorist attack, claiming the threat level was very high. This led to an overreaction from the city, which in turn took drastic measures to prevent the 19 year old kid from escaping. At one point the entire city and surrounding suburbs, home to nearly 700,000 people, was effectively shut down with officials urging residents to remain inside with their doors locked. Authorities also advised the media to stop reporting on any police movements in order to prevent the suspect from obtaining information about the ongoing...