Boston Marathon Bombings: Don't Use Tragedy to Feed the Media Beast


Yesterday, I spent some time with a close friend of mine relaxing and debriefing from the day. Not surprisingly, the Boston tragedy came up, as the news was on at his house all day and I constantly monitored Twitter and PolicyMic for minute-by-minute updates. I noticed myself filling him in on the headlines that I noticed from Twitter. After a little while, I began to reflect upon the way I was relaying news to him. I told him about all of the crazy things that people were doing in response; racist tweets, Westboro funeral protests, Nicholas Kristof’s attack on the GOP, Alex Jones and his remarks, and more. After further thought, I realized how wrong this is …

Today, Buzzfeed’s Dorsey Shaw jumped on Glenn Beck and titled his headline, “Glenn Beck: Bombing Is A Reason To Buy Gold.” I watched the video of Beck and immediately felt a little sick that he could possibly be trying to sell more gold, to please a sponsor of his show, Goldline, by using fear in regard to the Boston bombing.

However, updates and a source from the show explained that the monologue in the segment was written about the dramatic drop of gold prices six hours before the tragedy in Boston. He explained in the recorded snippet that attacks such as this can further destabilize the economy. While his statement seemed to be taken out of context, it was more worrisome to me that he immediately made news because people wanted to tear him apart due to mentioning the Boston incident and using it. The story that I believe he was focusing on was the fact that the price of gold plummeted the most that it has in the last 30 years. Ironically, his attackers are doing the very thing they accused him of: using tragedy to further their agenda.

Westboro Baptist Church, the never-ending source for outrageous activity, appears to have released a statement saying that they will be protesting the funerals. Why do we even give them press any more? There will always be extremists; it is precisely what makes those of us who don’t agree with them not extreme. Let us remember, in times like this, we should be doing things to help one another, promote unity, and work together instead of finding someone we disagree with to hate on.

Remember that some will seek to take advantage of tragedy and others will write stories to sell news. Controversy and attacks on other people’s comments is what gets retweets and reads. Finding out who did this will probably take some time, and rightfully so. Let’s stop speculating and blaming the other side’s nutjobs. While that search for the perpetrator(s) continues, let us not attack one another in the mean time or do things, write things, or criticize someone simply to get headlines or damage the other side of the aisle.

They say patience is a virtue. Such a claim should be used to remind our nation-wide media and all of us media consumers in light of the recent Boston tragedy. The sad realization is that controversy and outrageousness sells in news media. Americans, cliché as it may sound, let us not turn against one another to further our political agendas.