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Media Mania On Rise

April 20, 2013
By HEATHER ZIEGLER , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

Children were playing baseball on playground ball fields on Tuesday evening before storms swept the dust into a swirling whirlpool on the fields. Mothers pushed babies in strollers and Dads helped toddlers onto the swings.

Wheeling and Oglebay parks were filled with dogs and people, walkers taking in the fresh air and the early blooming of daffodils. Despite the threat of rain, some motorists were having their vehicles washed and buffed dry.

The mail carriers delivered the mail and road crews continued to patch potholes.

Taking in all of these sights made it a little easier to temporarily step away from the death and destruction of the bombings at the Boston Marathon just one day earlier. Despite the upheaval in Boston, life in the Ohio Valley went on pretty much as usual.

The bombing story has dominated the headlines, as it should. Americans have learned to expect the blood and gore to be instantly in front of them, thanks to the media's ability to bring constant updates to a public clamoring for details.

What Americans don't need is speculation. Reporting these tragedies has taken on a life of its own for a few national news outlets. Some enjoy that sort of thing. I don't. I prefer learning the hard and real facts rather than hearing about the workings of a pressure cooker or a little-known profiler offering his take on an unnamed suspect.

Remember when Chet Huntley and David Brinkley looked us square in the eyes and reported to us the facts surrounding a heinous crime, war or natural disaster? Newspapers, too, printed stories only when information could be confirmed by an official source, and we still publish by that rule to the best of our ability.

Today's assemblage of global commentators now sit on crowded news sets where they talk with the latest "expert" offering his or her opinion on everything from fashion to financial ruin. They may be seeking to play to the audience, but when they no longer are looking the public in the eye, it can be easier to be careless with the truth.

That happened this week when reporting that a suspect had been taken into custody in the Boston Marathon bombing case. Soon news outlets across the country printed, scrolled or announced that bit of information only to learn a while later it was unsubstantiated.

As this terrorist attack unfolded, I believed that the powers that be would find the persons who committed this act of terrorism - and they did.

As more information becomes available on this case, perhaps we should all learn to take a deep breath before we Tweet, e-mail, text or post online information until it can be verified. Being "first to report" the news is ambitious. Reporting the correct news is being responsible.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via e-mail at hziegler@theintelligencer.net.

 
 

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