The Boston Globe’s online homepage. (www.bostonglobe.com)
When editors at The Boston Globe recognized that their city had been bombed by suspected terrorists who were still at large, they immediately mustered a substantial and experienced newsgathering team to cover one of the most tragic, frightening and unsettling moments in the long history of a great American city.
They got the story, from the epic photos of the heroism of emergency workers last Monday to the remarkable announcement on Friday night of the apprehension of the second suspect in the bombing attack.
the Globe’s web headline, published minutes after the arrest of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, reflected the interests and emotions of a great city as a great newspaper should: “Alive, Conscious, Captured.”
Bostonians read the Globe all last week with a passion, as they did the tenacious Boston Herald, its smaller rival in a rare competition for big-city readers. Along with the Globe’s Boston readers, millions of people across the United States and around the world made the paper’s website an Internet hot spot.
That most of this reading occurred online is not news. What we call “newspapers” are better described today as “newsrooms.” It is silly to talk of an “old media” versus “new media” divide. A daily paper is still printed, and some of us love the experience of reading it. But, especially in rapidly-evolving “breaking news” moments, it’s the website that’s got the dynamism. And Twitter: the Globe now has 275,000 followers.
“This shows how vital (metro daily newspapers) are when disasters strike,” Globe editor Brian McGrory told The Huffington Post. “The Globe and its website became something like a town square, where people turned for information and they got it.”
The Globe’s site was packed with instant and detailed coverage and analysis and superb editorials on the conflicts and concerns that arise in these moments. Some mistakes were made along the way, as is always the case when news is breaking so rapidly. But the Globe’s 24/7 coverage—which placed immense demands on its staff and on its limited resources—was overwhelmingly accurate, detailed and insightful. Media writer Seth Mnookin hailed the paper’s coverage of the bombing and the search for the killers as “Tireless. Dogged. Spirited.”
And the Globe’s coverage was something else: Free.