(I wrote this column last Wednesday. I felt due to the events taking place it was best if I waited for a resolution before I published this.)
I am going to step away from writing about sports for just a moment here. There are times you just have to; times when events are much more important than sports.
On Patriots day, we saw the Red Sox play a day game, the Boston Marathon and a bombing. Unfortunately sporting events are easy targets for terrorism; a large crowd, confusion, and a chance to not only injure large numbers of people but also attack our innocence and safety.
I could go on about the pain inflicted. Speak of how as Americans we are being dragged into a realm where nothing is safe, a reality much of the rest of the world has lived in day after day. Ponder about the cowardice of bombing women and children who have done nothing but try to live their lives. But that is not the story being told here…
On Wednesday it became clear that many of our media outlets have learned nothing since the Sandy Hook tragedy. We depend on our journalists to inform, educate and sometimes even inspire us. At the very least they must be accurate, for without accuracy they are simply storytellers. After that tragedy the media was so obsessed with being first they did not bother trying to get the facts straight. Once again we have media members obsessed with being first. How about we try and get the story right first?
There were reports of someone being arrested for the bombing, reports that were relayed by several news outlets. News outlets which were clearly more interested in page views and ratings points than in getting the story right. Any first year journalism student knows that you verify any information before you put it in print or on air. This was not done. Hours later reports came from the Police, Homeland Security, and the FBI that no one had been arrested; no one detained, and would not even confirm a person of interest.
The worst part of all of this is even after the media made an egregious mistake once again they tried to talk their way around it. Here is an idea, if you screw up horribly like this again have your on air talent look at the camera and say, “I am sorry, we were wrong…”, then actually tell the public what you actually do know. Just a thought I know.
The fact is as journalist we have a responsibility, not to the people or our employers, we have a responsibility to the truth. We serve an honorable profession that too often suffers a disservice by those who care more about being first than being right. The media should have the decency to do better, to be better. If some of our collegues have difficulty with that maybe they should have the decency to find another line of work…