Moore’s Law states that computer processors double in complexity and speed every two years.
A similar law applies to news: Call it the Law of More.
Seconds after Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev detonated explosives at the Boston Marathon on April 15, the media went into hyperdrive but this time, everyone was a “journalist.” Police chiefs and top FBI agents practically begged the public to get involved, pleading for pictures and videos no lead was too small.
And, boy, did everyone get involved and how.
On Day 1, the FBI was deluged. By Day 5, after the bureau released photos of the bombers, its website was getting 300,000 queries a minute that’s 5,000 a second.
In between, it was shoot first, ask questions later.
First, news agencies rushed to report that authorities were questioning a suspect a Saudi, no less! “Investigators have a suspect a Saudi Arabian national in the horrific Boston Marathon bombings,” The New York Post “has learned.” “The man was caught less than two hours after the 2:50 p.m. bombing on the finish line, in the heart of Boston.”
Oops. Turned out he was being questioned as a witness, not a suspect.
The same story reported, much like the rest of the media, that a third explosion had occurred at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Who knows who first reported the “fact”: Within minutes, the wildfire had burned across the networks.
Except it wasn’t an explosion, it was a fire unrelated to the bombings. And a minor fire at that, a problem with the HVAC system.
Day 2 wasn’t much better. By then, all the nets had flown in their talking hair to pore over every last “tip” from every “source,” all breathlessly reporting from the streets of Boston in the harsh daylight sun that reminds us all how much makeup and TV lights really help! “Experts” crawled out from under their rocks to speculate and bloviate and postulate theory after mindless theory.
By then, the FBI had had enough it postponed a 5 p.m. press briefing, then after 8 that night canceled it altogether. The message: Everyone calm down, we’ll take it from here.
Around that time, Internet sleuths finished up their bowls of cereal in their parents’ basement and took to the Web. Some on sites like Reddit and 4Chan and Twitter compiled slide shows of “suspicious” characters you know, people with backpacks and wearing white baseball hats (not backwards, like the clue leaked by some mouthy official, just caps). Hmm, 23,000 runners, all needing a change of clothes, yeah, there might be some backpacks. And runners, um, they wear caps.
Day 3 brought more “journalism” this time by “real” journalists. On the street, Supercuts Wolf Blitzer, excitedly said to John King, “You’re getting more information exclusive reporting what else are you learning?” “Uh,” said Hair Cuttery King, “that an arrest has been made in the investigation here in Boston.”