Station to Station

Boston Station Sites Struggle With Bombing Coverage

4/15/2013 03:44:45 PM

UPDATED: WCVB Boston’s website is the main source of breaking news for CNN.com’s coverage of a pair of bombs going off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon earlier today.

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“Two explosions have been reported near the Boston Marathon finish line on Boylston Street as thousands of people gathered for the race, and there are reports of injuries,” reads the lede on wcvb.com.

The Hearst station’s site has text and photos.

CNN.com cites its affiliation with WBZ, WHDH and WCVB on its homepage.  As of 4 p.m., WBZ provides the video from Boylston Street in Boston on the CNN.com home page.

The Fox O&O has the only station video I’m currently seeing online at 3:30. WFXT also has aerial video that’s pretty distant.”It’s really an awful scene at the finish line,” says a WFXT anchor.

The other Boston stations don’t seem to be doing as well on the web, at least for me, at 3:30 p.m. ET. I’m getting a Service Unavailable message when I try to access WHDH Boston’s site. (Same situation at 4 p.m. I asked colleagues around the U.S. to try as well, and all got the same message.)

The WBZ/CBS Radio joint site isn’t coming through at 3:30 either. 502 Bad Gateway, goes the message. [UPDATE: At 3:45, the site was working, with a live camera at the finish line.]

Cable net NECN has an AP report on the two bombings as of 3:30, and a headline on the home page from earlier today that says, “Army of volunteers keeps Boston Marathon running smoothly.”

As of 4:10, NECN reports that two are dead and 22 are injured.

As of 4:30, WHDH.com is up and running. As of 4:50, it is Service Unavailable again.

One thing I wonder every time there is major breaking news, particularly the kind involving death, around the U.S.–if a station can go wall to wall on the air, why do users have to sit through a 30-second pre-roll online before accessing video of the event?

It is Patriot’s Day in Massachusetts, with a Red Sox game at Fenway, and the 117th running of the marathon, which was suspended in the final mile for those who had not finished.

Twitter is of course a faster forum for breaking news than the station sites. Tweets @SeanKellyTV of WCVB:

Tired scared runners wandering around Boylston desperate to find loved ones.

From @AP:

BREAKING: Intelligence official: 2 more explosive devices found at Boston Marathon; being dismantled.

A little after 5, the stations reported on a third explosion, at the JFK Library.

WFXT, whose video is being shown on Fox News, reported on a “heightened state of alert” in Washington and New York, as well as Boston.

“This is not being taken lightly in Washington and it’s not being taken lightly in New York, and perhaps elsewhere in the country,” said the Fox anchor.

During primetime, CNN relied on footage from WHDH, WBZ and WCVB. Fox News Channel tapped WBZ, the CBS O&O, for its live video of a press conference at 8:45. Here in New York, the stations stuck with network programming.

Sadly, many will think back to the tragic 2013 event every time they celebrate Patriot’s Day in Massachusetts.

“The third Monday in April is one day everyone in Boston loves…our holiday, a great family day,” Bill Fine, WCVB president and GM, told B&C. “It makes you sick to see the pictures of how quickly it was ruined, coupled with the sad realization that today’s attack will serve as a lifelong reminder on every Patriot’s Day for the rest of our lives.”

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