That week was too hectic for me to do anything except work. That was part of my coping process -- not allowing myself to completely process things in real time. The following week was a little rough - but then things got crazy at work again. Between the bombings (and fallout following), Senate race, Mayor's Race, Whitey Bulger trial, Aaron Hernandez case, and Mayor's Race, it's been a crazy summer in Boston. I finally took a little time off work last month and spent a few days in New York seeing friends and doing some writing. I've since gone back through all of my notebooks, photos and tweets from that week and started writing a series of essays about it. That has been huge in terms of processing everything
I also found it really helpful going to the bombing site afterward ... I had been assigned to stand out there at 3:30 am 10 days later, to watch police remove the barriers and reopen the street for the first time ... I was actually kind of dreading seeing the two spots where it had happened, and standing there, but it was actually really cathartic -- some other folks from the neighborhood showed up around 4:30 or 5 am, just because they wanted to see it, too. A couple hours later, when the sidewalk was once again buzzing with people, commuters, joggers, etc -- it felt really good.
I have a few other questions from readers....
I think I slept the entire next weekend. I found I didn't want to talk about it with anyone except fellow journalists. And I never went to look at the bombing sites. Still haven't.
I also think it was really important to talk about it with colleagues in informal settings. I remember I was online at 3 am the night after the bombing, thinking about what had happened, and my colleague Eric Moskowitz was online at that time too, and we just g-chatted about some of our thoughts from the day, and the weird position of being a journalist in such an incredible situation. It was a small gesture, but I found that really helpful.
Courtney, I have been thinking a lot about the differences between Sept. 11 and the Marathon bombings when it comes to social media. The ability to gather so many first-hand accounts from bystanders has really changed the nature of reporting.
Five or six people, Courtney. I think the coverage would have suffered without social media, which gave it an immediacy as people reacted. Without it, we would have had to rely more heavily on filtered news such as CNN.
For me, the week began and ended on Twitter. It, more specifically Tweetdeck, was the tool I used to weed through reports and photos both on the day or the bombings and the night of the manhunt. What really struck me about covering this particular news event online was the importance of collaborative reporting. We relied on our reporters, fellow news organizations, and most importantly, people on the scene, who experienced and oftentimes photographed the chaos. Social media facilitated that collaboration.
Courtney, do you mean our main Twitter accounts? We had two Metro reporters/writers posting directly to @BostonDotCom and @BostonGlobe, plus myself, Teresa, Catherine, and assorted other producers based on their shift. So A LOT of people helped manage the funnel of information going out.
It's funny; not too long after the explosions, one of the Globe photographers called in to report what he had seen, and I found myself taking dictation from him on the phone. I remember thinking: wow, haven't done this in awhile!
It's impressive to see how the old journalistic competitive nature is tamped down by social media. Younger journalists are happy to rely on colleagues at competing news organizations if they know they are reliable. The need is still there to be first but being wrong is just so glaring and public now that being right the first time trumps that, as it should
I would guess that at least 60 to70% of the people in the newsroom had Twitter/Tweetdeck/Hootsuite open to help monitor all the reports circulating.
And of course we published text/photos/videos directly from social media into our live blog.
It's true, even in addition to the five or six directly involved, reporters all over the newsroom (and even an ex-city editor at home) were fact-checking and verifying for us
Folks, I have to hop off now, but thanks so much for this opportunity to chat. Take care, all.
Thank you very much for your time Teresa, and it was a pleasure having your perspective in this chat.
I have a comment from a reader that just popped in...
I think this is an interesting comment, in that it relates to the difference between the hours you have when publishing in a newspaper, versus seconds when reporting in real-time.
Allendria, I have to leave as well. I enjoyed participating.
As a very general follow-up: How do you manage newspaper content versus real-time reporting? How do you work for both of those (sometimes-competing) interests in a newsroom?
Thank you for your participate, too, Neil. It was valuable to have you here, to hear what you had to say from WCVB's perspective.
It is but the rules are the same and have to be. Don't report anything you're not sure of and admit when you don't know something. Don't make assumptions. As was said earlier, so much can be taken out of context. You might think what someone is saying on a scanner relates to this, but it doesn't. Wesley didn't report a "suspect" in custody because it wasn't verified and it turned out not to be a suspect in this case
All of our reporters publish both to our websites and the paper. It's a huge process. If you visit BostonGobe.com during the day, for example, you'll see regular updates on stories as they evolve throughout the day. I believe the print deadlines vary by day and no all stories published on the web appear in print. But all "print" stories appear online.
Having worked in newspapers for many years before online, it always seems that it comes down to the absolute deadline no matter how many hours you've had.
In times like the bombings and manhunt, it's important to deliver verified information as it comes in. I saw the live blog as a service to the community. Details like closed schools, transit systems or the "shelter in place" order needed to be conveyed immediately.
In a situation like the Marathon bombing, I think real-time reporting has to come first -- people are so glued to the screen, if you wait until the next morning to get them the information, it will feel old.
A former editor here referred to "real-time" reporting as allowing readers to see the "making of the sausage." It can be messy - and we try to avoid the mess by only reporting verified information - but we do issue corrections as we discussed earlier. I heard from many, many people who refreshed our twitter feeds and live blogs all throughout our coverage.
If anything, I think we've all gotten better at using the real-time reporting (ie Twitter) and quick online updates throughout the day as a help, not a hindrance, when it comes to getting out the final version of the story.
Agreed, Martine. You go with trusted sources and correct yourself when you're wrong
Friends told me after the fact that they sat with eyes glued to that feed for days. It was a really important resource, as was the Globe's comprehensive, long-form coverage of the events.
One of the most difficult tasks of the week came for me on Friday evening after the second suspect had been taken into custody. I'd be publishing live updates for more than 24 straight hours at that point but now I had a new challenge -- transitioning back into newspaper mode and writing a 1,000 word story for the following day's paper. It was definitely one of the tougher things about all of the coverage - molding more than a days worth of real time reporting (from myself and 6 or 7 other reporters) into a well-written, comprehensive piece for the newspaper.