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Reporters are not everyone

April 19, 2013 - Paul Giannamore
The role of the little ’ole local news guy in a world where everything can be local thanks to our phones and electronic tablets became really clear to me today as the Boston terrorist pursuit unfolded.

I Tweeted. A lot more than my usual once-a-day “Hey, Pablog” is ready for your consumption.

I was scanning TV channels, listening to the CBS Radio affiliate in Boston (WBZ), and the Massachusetts State Police (which was keeping a couple channels really clear and free of scanning for obvious reasons).

And what I saw was a lot of unfounded and murky speculation (especially on FOX and CNN, a little less so at least early on on NBC and almost none on CBS), because there is a lot of time to fill covering just one news story.

But, the emerging picture of these two guys was becoming clearer thanks to some interviews with their uncle today. He called them losers, and they hated successul people. No real talk yet of connetions to Chechen rebels, except for the TV pundits. Indeed, Uncle Bomber said there is nothing to do with Chechnya at all to this story. Period.

And that was the point. Real reporting tells stories. In an age where everyone has a cell phone and a good camera, everyone thinks they’re a reporter and a publisher. You can get your message out to the world in an instant thanks to Twitter, Facebook and a host of other technologies.

In a fluid story like this, an item can get a life of its own really qickly -- witness the whole “There’s been an arrest” story Wednesday...which none of the nationals said diddly about after they got it wrong. No offense, but there aren't a lot of people who are trained to separate fact from fiction as something like this unfolds. What we end up with is a lot of repetition of stuff that just is not true, or part of a full picture.

So, even a local reporter/writer/blogger has a role to play in national stories: Consumer of news, with a really, really jaundiced and experienced and trained eye. We all can remind you not to speculate. Not to jump to the usual American “Hang ‘em all” mentality, before we know just who we’re hangin’.

We can filter and remind you to be wary of what you’re consuming with your eyes and ears, and not to repeat rampant speculation.

It’s what I did this morning.

Here’s hoping we get Jokar No. 2 alive, so we can waterboard some info out of him. Beyond that, I’m not ready to speculate anything about terror cells or wider allegiances until somebody gives verifiable truth.

Again, if you’re all going to live like reporters, consume news like the good ones. Report and repeat only WHAT YOU CAN PROVE, not “what you know.”


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