The graveyard shifts of local and national media were thrust into covering one of the biggest, fastest moving news stories of the year last night — an alleged convenience store robbery, which turned into a carjacking and escalated into a manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombing suspects and a firefight that left a police officer and one of the suspects dead, a suspect on the loose and a whole city on lockdown. Getting reliable information in the middle of the night amidst all the chaos was incredibly difficult, but local Boston media got a chance to shine.
Related: Networks’ Coverage Of Boston Manhunt
The Boston Globe was miles ahead of everyone else, reporting the connection between the MIT shooting and the Boston Marathon suspects as well as the apprehension of one of the suspects at least an hour before anyone else. Gun-shy after erroneously reporting that there was a bombing suspect in custody on Wednesday, CNN anchors led by Jake Tapper were overly cautious, declining to even reference the Boston Globe report on the arrest and only connected the events after the statement of Col. Timothy Alben, commander of the Massachusetts State Police. Meanwhile, Fox News‘ Bill Hemmer was holding a tablet with the Boston Globe on air, reading updates off the site.
The way the Globe was ahead of all national papers, including The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, local stations beat the national news networks too, with Boston newspaper and TV outlets also getting the news of the death of Suspect #1 out first. CNN actually tapped into the feed of a local Boston station to carry Alben’s key impromptu presser, which officially confirmed that the chased men were the bombing suspects and that one was dead and one on the lam.
Seeing how nimble and well-sourced the coverage by local Boston media was, I wished CNN and Fox News would just hand their airwaves to the local affiliates for the night. Because we were given a textbook example how intrepid local reporters with deep connections in local government and law enforcement do much better on a fast-moving story on their home turf than highly paid correspondents for national print and TV media.