WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

Authorities now say they have an image of the suspected bomber

After an agonizing period of uncertainty about a possible perpetrator, no arrests, but authorities late Wednesday reported making progress in their investigation, isolating an image of the bombing suspect.

Still, we saw substantial backpedaling from earlier media accounts that a suspect had been positively identified, even arrested, with a court appearance scheduled.

CBS News reported Wednesday night investigators considered release a photograph of the suspected bomber, but then decided not to... for undisclosed reasons.

Here's the latest from The BOSTON GLOBE:


And from WBZ / CBS News in Boston:


Britain's GUARDIAN newspaper notes the discrepancies in the reporting about an arrest, or pending arrest:


The UK tabloid - DAILY MAIL - backpedaled on reports that a bombing suspect had already been identified, even arrested...


Posted at 2:03pm on April 17, 2013 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Wed, Apr 17, 2013 4:20pm
This is an example of how the mainstream media report news without verifying the facts. There are too many stories that are from nameless sources "who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to comment."

Wed, Apr 17, 2013 7:19pm
Let's make sure we don't have any Richard Jewell's accused.

Wed, Apr 17, 2013 9:37pm
Mr. Pizza beat me to it... That has been my concern over the whole day ever since it was obvious we had no idea who was responsible....

Mr. Jewell was one who when we needed an arrest, was in the wrong place at the wrong time. And was kept incarcerated, so we could pretend we had solved the case, when, even today, it is one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in Riply's Believe It or Not...

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 8:48am
unfortunately today everyone wants to break the news instead of report it.

Allan Loudell
Thu, Apr 18, 2013 9:14am
Arthur, I fail to see the difference.

"Breaking news" is based on what a news organization has learned or has been told. That's reporting, albeit, it may be incomplete reporting... the very definition of "breaking news".

Allan Loudell

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 8:14pm
The problem is the media don't seem to make a distinction between "has learned" and "has been told." Coupled with that is an unwillingness to state when "reporting" is "incomplete" and to make clear what has not yet been learned.

Arthur is right. Nobody is willing to keep reporting until everything is in the "has learned" column. Instead they go off half cocked in a world where being first trumps being right and being complete. This is based on the media's inability to shut up. Instead of going to something else until they learn something, the media present repetition, speculation and hearsay as news. Then, when they get it wrong (inevitably), they make excuses.

Allan Loudell
Fri, Apr 19, 2013 6:01am
I think you're onto something with your distinction between "has learned" and "has been told". The former implies a higher level of certainty.

However, I DO hear all the time a cable news network or media outlet cautioning that something is very preliminary or tentative.

I don't think it's as much the presure to be first as it is the inevitable result of minute-by-minute coverage, 24/7, of a story and the sense that the public will tune out if you dare cover any OTHER story!

The inevitable result of going "live" to people in the field, who report the latest tidbits they've heard. In this live news environment, no one is necessarily performing an editing function.

Again, we can come up with many instances in the days before widespread cable TV news and the internet where traditional networks and news services kept having to revise, or correct, a breaking story.

The late Frank Reynolds' on-air, temper-tantrum during ABC's coverage of the Reagan assassination attempt, for example. You'll recall first reports indicated White House Press Secretary James Brady and others had been shot, but NOT the President. Then came word that RR himself had been shot.

Somewhat later in the coverage, all three networks reported James Brady had died; a report even filtered through that Reagan had died. Around this time, Reynolds famously shouted on-air:

"Let's get it nailed down... somebody... let's find out! Let's get it straight so we can report this thing accurately..." (In an incredible coincidence, Reynold's son - Dean Reynolds - then reporting for United Press International, first came up with the information that James Brady was, in fact, alive... precipitating the famous outburst from Frank Reynolds.)

My point is -- this has always been a problem in non-stop coverage of a major story -- even in that former elite world of the major TV networks.

The bungled information during the Reagan assassination coverage (declaring James Brady dead, for example) might have been even worse than what we've seen with the Boston Marathon bomber coverage.

However, The NEW YORK POST and FOX News - in particular - appear to have jumped into reporting about the lives of possible suspects long before they were really implicated as suspects. I've posted an ATLANTIC article about this in my Friday morning blog.

Allan Loudell

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