Media literacy: Boston bombing, live blogging from NY – New media vs. traditional media live coverage. Case study

Context – I’m in New York right now following the bombing in Boston live on traditional and new media.



How journalists are covering the #BostonMarathon explosions:  – A Storify of the coverage.

Another Storify coverage:

————19:00 – Some conclusions

Google person finder was available after 2 hours from the explosion: . It seems that there is a clear split between traditional media (mainly TV) and social media after the first 3 hours. Traditional media now delivers relevant information (first source) for social media consumers while activists now use social media to organize and provide assistance.

The first 3 hours from the incident were also very interesting for channel comparison as social media was the first to react and produce images and content from the scene. It is very likely that the authorities will use more social media content leads in the investigation.

I also found very interesting that social media was content and evidence oriented (providing specific and documented information from the scene) while traditional media was very emotional.

The latest count shows that 3 people were killed and 144 others were injured – the official data about the victims was delivered only by traditional media as they had the resources to cover this.

————18:30 – Hotlines and call centers – quick governmental setup

Use of call centers – two emergency phone numbers for people to call were set up in the first hours (official action). Relatives of victims and anyone missing can call the mayor’s hotline at 617-635-4500. Anyone with information about the explosions should call police at 800-494-TIPS.

The FBI also said it had set up 800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324), prompt #3, for anyone who had information or visual images regarding the explosions.

“No piece of information or detail is too small,” the FBI said in a statement cited by Boston Globe –

————18:16 – Incomplete information for decision making

President Obama did not refer to the attacks as an act of terrorism, and he cautioned people from “jumping to conclusions” based on incomplete information. According to NewYork Times, a White House official, speaking on the condition of anonymity afterward, said, “Any event with multiple explosive devices — as this appears to be — is clearly an act of terror, and will be approached as an act of terror.”

————18:10 – Volunteers use social media for offering assistance

Reading #Bostonhelp, a hashtag for people asking for/offering assistance w. places to stay, power, wifi, etc. #bostonmarathon

————18:00 – Heavy traffic on internet networks as people finish work hours and news spreads

Heavy traffic on networks and social media websites – twitter has problems loading (New York). Lock down in Boston, special security measures in New York and Washington.

News stories in photographs – local photojournalists from, first at the scene:

————17:55 – Mobile networks not reliable – Text/Wifi is encouraged

AT&T suggestion: Use text messaging for emergency – wifi still available in the area. The mobile provider is encouraging people to text/use the internet but not to use voice call. Very interesting emergency response strategy – it seems that the mobile networks can’t provide reliable support in case of emergency and there is no integrated emergency service with twitter (eg 911 on Twitter).

————17:50 – Cellular phone shutdown

Cellular phone shutdown (not confirmed by officials) – this is very interesting piece of info; either is because security officials decided to shut the service down because bombs can be triggered by cell phones; either because the networks jammed because of high usage & panic.

————17:45 – No. of victims varies – only traditional media can cover this at this moment

Update on the victims (on TV/NBC) -over 100 treated so far. It seems that traditional media is the source for finding out about the official victims of the bombings – authorities us e traditional media to broadcast official info.

———–17:30 – Panic on twitter while traditional media is reserved

Panic to hit twitter and new media – traditional media is still very reserved. This is a great time to reflect on the use of new media in starting panic/insecurity (traditional media is more responsible in this scenario).

Listening to Boston PD scanner is nerve-wracking. Basically, suspicious packages being reported everywhere… #BostonMarathon

———–17:00 – Rich content produced by new media & social media

New York Post online coverage – I’m downtown NY right now (near Times Sq) and there is an increase of mobilized police forces/firemen – people advised to avoid crowds (quite hard for New York):

———–16:40 – New twitter hash started by traditional media

Traditional media started their own hash – #BostonMarathon live

———–16:35 – Twitter is the primary source of information. Traditional media emotional and with no informational stream

Twitter seems to be the primary source for info – #BostonMarathon

TV coverage right now on CBS, CNN, NBC, FOX, ABC News – they seem to cover many emotional aspects of the bombing. Information is more on twitter than on tv.

———-16:25 – Fake twitter account deactivated

Fake twitter account appeared seconds after the explosion. Twitter Security deactivated the account in a few minutes:

Thanks @TwitterSecurity for suspending the fake and outrageous @_BostonMarathon account so quickly! #PrayforBoston cc @BostonMarathon

———-16:20 – Suspect discovered on CCD video networks

New media updates: 12 dead, 50 injuries, Authorities ID suspect as Saudi national in marathon bombings, under guard at Boston hospital – New York police now out on the streets. TV channels are way behind on reporting this – Twitter seems to be the primary source for live coverage tag #BostonMarathon –

———-16:15 – Intelligence agencies conduct search for coded integrated communications

NSA, CIA, FBI searching for coded integrated communication in the last 24 hrs. No credible claim or responsibility until now.

———-16:00 – Information regarding JFK Library explosion provided by the governor (not confirmed by the police)

Several bombs discovered in Boston, it seems that there was another explosion 30 min ago at JFK Library. They don’t know who is behind this, New York & Washington experience security updates. Other bombs expected to be found in the next hours; people advised not to leave hotels/homes (source – live conference with the governor of Massachusetts) –

———-15:30 – High quality photos uploaded online in less than 30 minutes

Photos of the Boston Marathon Bombing went online less than 30 minutes after the explosions – Several explosions erupted near the finish line of the Boston Marathon today, in downtown Boston, Massachusetts

———- 15:00 – Fast response time for media coverage (traditional & social media) in less than 10 minutes from the explosion

Happening right now in Boston – 2 explosions occurred at Boston Marathon killing two people, injuring 23 others: — in New York, NY. Bomb exploded around 2:50 p.m.

Emergency radio was the first traditional media to be activated. Boston PD is saying to get on social media and tell people to stay away from The Boston marathon area AND the JFK library.

Coverage started by Boston local journalists using social media: