Boston Marathon Coverage: Pete Williams Does Heroic Reporting On Tragedy


CNN’s creditability as a news source to count on in times of wall to wall crisis coverage has come under intense criticism and scrutiny in light of the Boston Marathon bombings. In what was described as CNN’s major meltdown occurred on Wednesday afternoon. It wrongly reported that there was an arrest of a "dark-skinned male." Later, they had to backtrack on their "breaking news" for its inaccuracy. 

To their credit, other big name news outlets such as the Associated Press, CBS, and Fox News also got their information wrong. On the other hand, NBC's Pete Williams has been hailed on social media as a beacon of accuracy in a news world that seems to value being first over being right. While other news outlets reported speculation of suspect capture, Williams stayed true to reporting only what was known.

Williams is also said to have been the first to break news on the death of a suspect, their foreign connections, the incident of a stolen vehicle and that the two suspects were related. This breakthrough comes as a threat to CNN, who around this time last year hit their lowest ratings in over a decade.

In a study in the annual Pew's Research Center "State of the Media" report, MSNBC, belonging to the same group company Williams anchors for, was reported to be the most opinionated outlet with CNN having the most factual amount of reporting. Yet in face of recent upsets, what made CNN a trustworthy and household name in times of crisis faces serious competition. The dismaying aspect about it all is the fact that Williams is being hailed for essentially doing his job.

This note reflects the difference between an age of journalism swayed by the immediacy of social media and the importance of how the foundational basics of reporting will always remain crucial.