I’ve loved the city of Boston since my classmates and I went on a school field trip to the city five decades ago. My fondness for Beantown only grew when members of my family lived and worked there for a number of years. We spent the most wonderful times together, enjoying the beauty, history and total experience that Boston offers. It’s a great city for just walking around. From the downtown skyscrapers and amazing restaurants to the reminders of what this city and country were founded on – Bunker Hill Monument, Faneuil Hall, Paul Revere’s House, The Old North Church, The U.S.S. Constitution – Boston provides everything its’ visitors and residents could ever want. It is the Cradle of Liberty. It’s more than that, though. It’s a place where community means everything and nothing proved that sentiment more than the events of this past week.
The two bomb attacks during the Boston Marathon were horrendous, but the two bombers had underestimated the strength and resilience of the people they had dared to attack, as well as the unapologetic love and loyalty that Bostonians have for the place they proudly call home. It wasn’t just their initial response on that terrible Monday afternoon. It was the outpouring of support, both for those who were hurt and killed as well as for the efforts of law enforcement to apprehend the two monsters. Anyone who had a camera or cellphone with photos and videos of the area near the finish line came forward, hoping that they might somehow be able to provide the Boston PD and FBI with some clue as to who was responsible. In a time when people don’t come forward because they don’t want to get involved or are afraid of ramifications, the good people of Boston did what all of us hope we’d do. They helped. That’s a rare and wonderful thing these days and I couldn’t help but be moved by each and every one of them.
Then, Thursday night, a different kind of phenomenon happened. I was on Twitter at about 10PM when I saw a tweet about a shooting of a police officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. For a moment, I wondered if this was, in some way, tied to the bombing. I turned on the television, looking for some news coverage, but CNN and MSNBC were airing episodes of AC360 and Rachel Maddow from earlier in the evening. I turned back to Twitter and watched as people began to report news that the main stream media hadn’t even begun to cover. I normally pay very little attention to most tweets – they’re usually about Housewives or somebody’s personal Twitter war, but last night, however, were some of Twitter’s finest hours.
One young man seemed to be getting his information from sources that, from all appearances, were reliable and reasonable. Elliot Friar is a student in the Boston area and, if I had the power to do anything about it, I think he should take over for Wolf Blitzer, Jake Tapper or any of the so-called journalists. Elliot spent hours, well, probably most the night and day, tweeting the events exactly how they happened, calmly, responsibly and tirelessly. Many of us on Twitter had expressed our frustration with the lack of coverage by all of the major networks, but we really didn’t need more than Elliot. Thanks to this young man, we Tweeps knew about the car jacking and the police pursuit. He let us know that there had been explosions and exchanges of gunfire between the police and the suspects. With his information, we also were made aware of what neighborhoods were involved and who might be in harm’s way.
Elliot stayed with the story, reporting that he’d gotten about an hour or so of sleep, right up until the second suspect was taken into custody. Prior to the arrest, he offered a photo of the boat in the backyard where the 19 year old bomber had been cornered. He tweeted only that which he was sure of and which had been confirmed by the police. The same couldn’t be said for the MSM. As one man tweeted regarding the television reports: “NBC: Suspect is not moving. FOX: Suspect is moving. CNN: Suspect is doing gangnam style.” It’s funny, but it’s pretty close to the truth.
Going back over the past week and the way the MSM reported events, I’ve read comments questioning the need for television news. A lot of the same things I’ve written about the media in some of my posts has been reiterated by viewers and readers. Social media may very well be the future for the news, particularly in light of the way most of the major networks are reporting it – recklessly and irresponsibly. It took the folks in Boston who not only did their part in the investigation, but also saw to it that the story was reported correctly.
Now that the week-long ordeal is over, the people of Boston have cheered for the members of law enforcement as they made their way out of the neighborhood while the men and women in uniform shouted their thanks in response. In the days to come, we’re going to hear and see endless news reports about the two young men who tried to break a city. Right now, however, the bigger story is about Boston and the example they’ve set for the rest of us. This is how they roll – one city, one voice, all heroes. Boston strong.
I’d like to thank Elliot for giving me permission to use his name and being one of the people in the Boston area who made this post worth writing.