Program



An impromptu memorial for victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. Photo by Robert F. Bukaty/The Associated Press

Wednesday, May 1, 2013 | 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

On Twitter: #nieman

The Boston Marathon bombings may well have been America's first fully interactive national tragedy. "If there ever was a dividing line between cyberspace and what we used to call 'the real world,' it vanished last week," former NYT editor James Gleick wrote in New York magazine on April 20. The unfolding terror "found the ecosystem of information in a strange and unstable stage: Twitter on the rise, cable TV in disarray, Internet vigilantes bleeding into the FBI's staggeringly complex (and triumphant!) crash program of forensic video analysis." While crowdsourcing turned into a witch hunt on Reddit and citizen reporters delivered on-the-scene photography, video and reporting, journalists struggled to find their place in this new world. Misreporting and false announcements went hand in hand with smart, spontaneous innovations in how to separate rumors from facts and showcase the best of what the crowd had to offer.

During a roundtable conversation, invited guests and audience members discussed what we can learn from the coverage of the Marathon bombings. Panelists included Boston Globe deputy managing editor for local news Jennifer Peter; Globe reporter and 2013 Nieman Fellow David Abel; Cheryl Fiandaca, chief of public information for the Boston Police Department; Seth Mnookin, co-director of MIT's Graduate Program in Science Writing; Callie Crossley, host of WGBH's “Under the Radar”; and The Washington Post's director of digital content David Beard. The forum was introduced by Nieman Foundation curator Ann Marie Lipinski and was moderated by James Geary, Nieman's deputy curator.