What Boston Marathon bombing taught me about breaking news

Steve Kowch blog photoFrom where I sit On The Kowch, the Boston Marathon bombing ushered in a new era of breaking news coverage on television. The Boston Globe was credited by many cable news outlets, including the BBC and CNN, for its video they aired of the bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

I believe this is a first for television networks to turn to newspaper websites for video of an event they were covering live on air. I’m not surprised this has happened. Newspaper reporters have been carrying digital cameras for awhile now to shoot events they are assigned to cover.

Newspapers rely on their websites to promote the newspaper and generate non traditional revenue to help offset financial losses of operating a newspaper today. So reporters do double duty. Write for the print edition and the online edition.

Breaking news coverage video is all about having someone on the scene shooting the event and capturing the unexpected on video. This time, it was a newspaper reporter shooting video at the finish line of the Boston Marathon when the first bomb went off. The BBC showed the video with narration from the newspaper reporter

Click on photo to hear Boston Globe reporter David Abel describe what he saw while shooting the video

Boston marathon #2 bombing

Within 48 hours of the bombing, The Boston Globe video was viewed by more than 10 million people on YouTube. Like many papers in the United States and Canada, The Boston Globe has a pay wall to generate revenue by charging to access their website. But after the bombing, the Globe and other papers dropped the pay wall to let people see their online bombing coverage for free.

From where I sit On The Kowch, I learned something watching television coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing. I have to admit, while in radio, I never thought of checking local newspaper websites at the height of breaking news coverage. But now, it should be part of the to-do-list during breaking news coverage. If TV can use video from a newspaper website, why can’t radio stations air audio of that video. Just remember to give full credit to the newspaper’s website.

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Steve Kowch was program director of two of Canada’s largest newstalk radio stations for 14 years

He can be reached at steve@kowchmedia.com