The April 15 Boston bombings shocked the nation and led to a 102 hour manhunt for brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. During that time, an enthralled public interacted with both traditional and social media. The Boston Globe and Twitter serve as examples of this public involvement in people’s search for up-to-the-minute information.
What follows is my investigation into the societal, economic and political implications of that media coverage during the attack and afterwards.
A few words on the framing of the study:
The three dimensions I chose to use as lenses into media coverage (societal, economic and political) strive to delve into the most important issues facing media companies today.
The societal implications of the events in Boston that most interest me (and hopefully any media scholar) are the events on Twitter as the news broke and in the ensuing manhunt. Not only did news sources like the Globe share information on the popular social media site, but the public also provided content to an information-hungry public by both live-tweeting what they heard over the police scanner and observations from the various crime scenes. How does this peer production play into the notion that information should be spread for the public good?
The political implications I am most interested in are the question of copyright in the Internet age. Throughout the initial event and ensuing manhunt, images and ideas were shared across social media sites without regard to compensation or even identification. How do highly-shared events like this shape the way Web users view copyrighted material?
The economic implications that concern me are specifically the Globe lowering its paywall throughout the manhunt. How did this prove that information is a right that should be free (as in free beer) and how can an organization justify giving away a product with such high demand?
Finally, how do these separate, yet inextricably linked, dimensions affect each other in the larger picture?
I hope to answer these questions and more as I dive deeper into the events of mid April and the coverage that surrounded it.