Boston Bombers Also Killing Newpapers
The events at the Boston Marathon were tragic for so many, with death, dismemberment, and of course a certain loss of innocence for many as well. What appears to be an act of two rather twisted brothers has caused so much pain and harm to people and a community. It also prompted one of the most intense police man hunts on record, and perhaps one that had another victim: Newspapers.
What happened in Boston is perhaps the best indication of changes in the way people get information. No longer as we bound to wait for the 6 O’clock news or the morning paper, we get our information instantly, on the spot, as it happens. People were listening to the police scanners, they were glued to twitter, to facebook, and every other social media site around. CNN and other online news stations were running near constant updates, and local TV news in Boston pretty much went around the clock with full on coverage, wall to wall, often streaming online making it available to everyone.
Newspaper? Day late and a dollar short. Breaking news happened so fast that front pages of the Morning papers were pretty much out of date before anyone even opened then. The developments came think and fast, and most importantly, the public’s hunger for that information was key.
Was their confusion? Oh yeah, plenty of it. Rumors were treated as facts, facts as rumors, and even CNN apparently blew it on more than one occasion covering this story (I saw one of the anchors actually apologizing in a tweet, go figure!). There was a tidal wave of information, opinion, police statements, corrections, and down right false crap flowing at us like a fire hose.
… and we loved it.
The real proof in all of this is that the suspects were tracked down basically because of private security tape, videos people had taken, pictures snapped on cell phones, and the like. Police got tons of help and quickly two suspects were singled out. Events happening to the conclusion of the manhunt was a matter of days, not months. The world for a short while at least spun at internet speed.
Newspapers? They were left to print the out of date “stories of record” on the event, to be at best the historians of the situation. I makes me think of what Time and Newsweek use to be for so many, the “follow up” source for background and detail you didn’t get in other media. At the time, that other media included TV news and Newspapers. Newsweek stopped publishing last year, and Time is a thin slice of it’s former print self. Newspapers are getting thinner by the day, and are fighting with Time for the table scraps of stories, no longer being a source of breaking news or “EXTRA EXTRA!”. These days they are the day late and a dollar short on almost everything.
The 2013 Boston attack will go down in history for a lot of things, and while it may only be a signpost on the highway to oblivion for newspapers, it was a day many of us stopped caring so much.