Home Culture Why the Media Is More Tragic Than the Tragedies

Why the Media Is More Tragic Than the Tragedies

why we hate the media sometimes. boston example.
Wrong. As usual.

Every day I lose more and more faith in what we call “the news.”

By now we’ve all heard about the tragedy in Boston. Over the last few days, the focus has shifted from the victims to capturing the bastards behind this atrocity. And in the process of finding the suspects, we’ve once again seen the worst of mainstream and social media, despite how well-intentioned some efforts may have been. From the erroneous reporting of capture by the Associated Press and CNN and the subsequent moonwalking to clean up their mess, to the stereotypically stated descriptions of the suspects, this has been a complete shit show.

There are a few things that I find bothersome other than the reckless disregard for life. Let me highlight three reasons why we hate the media sometime — or maybe it’s just me. I’ll let you decide.

Stereotypes as usual. Perpetuation at its finest.

The first description we heard of the suspect was a dark-skinned man with an accent. This man then apparently attempted a Sammy Sosa and had to settle for brown. But when the photos were released on Thursday afternoon, we saw two very light and possibly white guys that look like they do keg stands and use “bro” as their biggest term of endearment.

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Honestly, I could care less about the race of the assailants. I just want them caught. I do care about the inherent racial undertones and stereotypes that infectiously spread in the era of viral everything. I’m sure every black, blue, or brown-skinned man with an accent caused ill-ease when boarding buses, trains, and elevators the next day. And because we’re programmed to find an ounce of truth in stereotypes, we had a familiar image in our heads of what this person looked like.

Internet sleuths and social media investigators feeding mainstream media.

A ton of pictures surfaced of potential suspects due to a tech savvy user group and the internet doing what it does. Innocent people’s pictures were posted all over the web. One of which made it to the front page of often tasteless New York Post. Can you imagine waking up in the morning to find yourself on the front page of a newspaper as a possible terrorist suspect? Uncool story, bro.

This is why I hate the internet sometimes.

Apparently being first is better than being accurate.

With the increased saturation of the blogosphere and news outlets, reporting has shifted from accuracy to speed. CNN is the most visible example here, even though they have a history of bringing up the rear in reporting. There was a point in time when it was more important to be accurate than first. But nowadays everybody wants to be the blog commenter that leaves the first comment as soon as a post goes live in an effort to be seen and patted on the back by a warm breeze.

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Today’s news has a one hour delay on the truth. Unfortunately, too many social media users haven’t figured that out yet. As a result, wrong information touches all corners of the earth in seconds.

As optimistic as I’d like to be, I have no faith in this getting better. We’ll just have to get better at waiting and discerning who we trust. But that’s life and it’s a cold world. May the media continue to make disasters messier than they already are.

What say you on the media mess?

slim jackson


UPDATE: Authorities have identified the suspects. One was killed overnight and the other is on the loose. Their names have also been floating around the internet.  All of this transpired after this post was written.


  1. The New York Post isn't media, not to us in the industry.


    CNN is crumbling under getting rid of all the good (brown) people, ironically. When something like this occurs, only a select few should be confirming sources. Many of the people CNN has gotten rid of as of late would have refused to report the info on air without further confirmations. I personally called the Boston Police to confirm info, and I'm not even from the region.

    I'm a journalist, btw. I really hope those young men sue the Post for that spread, especially the Moroccan kid in the blue. I forget his name, but he's going to have to deal with death threats and the like for a very long time, all for simply enjoying running and is a runner himself.

    As for identifying suspects as dark skinned people, I'm not surprised they are doing this at the network level. However, I don't understand why some organizations on the local level still parroted them. Network calls their own (messy) shots, but we're usually much more cautious locally. As a journalist, it truly sucks that we have to cross check everything from the wires now. We already deal with pressures from bosses to be first, but if you're wrong you're not first: you're just noisy and better have a good legal team.

  2. This is a new era of news broadcasting. It’s all about ratings and who can get the most re-tweets on twitter or hits on their website, right or wrong. I remember when the blogging boom first started and lots of journalist would say (paraphrasing) the difference between journalist and bloggers is credibility (no offense). It seems like lately the news is the new reality show, filed with scripted drama, gossip and assumption before facts.

    I’ve received most of my information on this incident from twitter. Small independent news sources, locals in the era etc…

    And honestly the prejudice agenda doesn’t surprise me. It’s crazy how when someone says terrorist the first though is Muslim, or if the suspect is “Muslim” the first though is terrorist. Yet if the same events happened and the suspect is white the first thing they want to do is review his mental stability, his family life, and job. Like white people can’t be terrorist.

    1. Timothy McVeigh (sp?) wasn't enough for them apparently. Let's not forget all the serial killers. I consider them terrorists too. I also saw earlier that they were talking about how one of the guys is heavy into hip hop music. Didn't quite understand the relevance of that. Oh, to "darken" him up.
      My recent post IAmRichJones: RT @EmilieMeck: Your career planning will evolve as you evolve in your career. Dn't be afraid to adjust your strategy & set new goals. …

  3. I was watching CNN this morning and the coverage was so choppy – which I can understand. You're in the middle of going over some unconfirmed detail of the suspect's life and you have to interrupt for a quick news briefing being run by the BPD. Ok, cool… Then one of the reporters on the scene state that they are running on a delay since this is an active investigation. Ok, cool… A few minutes later, they cut to that interview with the suspects' uncle talking about how he can't believe his nephew would do this he and his brother had no part of this etc. Awkward lady reporter asks where is your brother/suspects' father? The uncle says he lives on —-. He said the street, street number, town, state and zip code. WHY, why – especially if you're on a delay as you mentioned earlier – would you air this dude stating the FULL address? Where were the engineers (or whatever) responsible for monitoring the cameras?

    At that point, I just turned off the tv. Being first trumps accuracy as you stated and that's sad. These news outlets are going to have to figure their ish out when it comes to how they will compete with the likes of twitter/blogospheres. These kinds of events are exactly why I still wait for weekend news round ups and periodicals. They've had more time to sort through vast amounts of info and provide sound accounts. I may be "late" but I can say with more comfort that what I've read has been fact checked before publication vs. being thrown out there in an effort to "break" the news.

    1. Hey Tia,

      I like the weekend round up/periodical idea. I can tell you between last night and this morning, stories still changed like 3-4 times. They even had the wrong names of the suspects floating around. Crazy. I also missed what happened with the guy stating the full address. That's wild. So sloppy. smh.
      My recent post IAmRichJones: RT @EmilieMeck: Your career planning will evolve as you evolve in your career. Dn't be afraid to adjust your strategy & set new goals. …

  4. I'm hoping that this debacle shows the importance of the waiting/vetting process over immediacy but I dunno man. It's not looking likely..

    And about the darkening of the guy, they were going so hard trying to insert dude's "Muslim" ties. He's from Chechnya(sp), he identifies as Muslim and he once said a line from a Jay-Z song. Of course, we don't want to jump to any conclusions – and neither should you. However, let me restate dude identifies as Muslim, did you hear that? Muslim AND he listens to rap.. -_-

  5. Interesting, I remember watching a Dave Chappelle show skit and he was doing the "Clayton Bigsby" skit which was hilarious, but I remember during the skit he was addressing people and he said "Don't let the media tell you how to think and feel"…interesting as I look back on it and a subliminal message for sure. M.E.D.I.A Multi.Ethnic.Destruction.In.America

    "recollect your thoughts don't get caught up in the mix cuz the media is full of dirty tricks"… excerpt from 2pac shakur "Only God can judge me"
    My recent post Confessions Of A Tired Black Soul


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