Magazine article Editor & Publisher

When Tragedy Strikes, Reporting Shines: Boston Explosions Remind Us That News Transcends the Medium

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

When Tragedy Strikes, Reporting Shines: Boston Explosions Remind Us That News Transcends the Medium

Article excerpt

I first heard about the April 15 attack on the Boston Marathon as I was reviewing the announcement of this year's Pulitzer Prize winners, timing that now seems fitting since there will likely be Pulitzer-worthy material generated from coverage of the explosions.

As a news consumer, my hunger for information about the tragedy was instantaneous and insatiable. More importantly, that hunger didn't dissipate after viewing one website, or even after I went home and spent the evening with my family. The in-depth and locally angled pieces published the next morning and for weeks following were just as critical as social media and breaking news alerts had been on the day of the disaster.

This struck me as pertinent, because for quite some time now, newspapers have been roiled in discussions of what should come first. Print first, mobile first, digital first, audience first--all have become both company slogans and rallying cries of modern media. That one department should take priority over the rest of the business is now a commonly held belief among many well-respected newspaper executives.

But what the Boston Marathon bombings showed us is that, when it comes to addressing our current challenges, we've been asking the wrong question.

It doesn't matter which element a newspaper puts "first." In times of crisis and disaster, what matters is total, unequivocal coverage. We can't afford to give any one medium priority over the others, because readers are looking for as much information as possible from every medium. …

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