Each week on Tuesday, we typically feature a photo from our Flickr group. But in light of the news about the explosions at the Boston Marathon, we wanted to focus on much more important matters this week.
As I write this late in the evening on April 15th – just several hours after the incident – the facts have not yet been fully realized. There were two explosions, detonated within 15 seconds of each other in close proximity to the finish line. Three deaths and a hundreds of injuries have been reported. Sadly, of the dead is only eight years old. Many of the injured were spectators, cheering on those having just finished the race. The explosives were placed in trash cans, and rumors are circulating that there was a possible third device, but reports seem to be conflicting. Investigations continue, but it is not yet known who is behind the attacks. The only good news is that since it was a marathon, there was a massive block-long medical tent filled with medical personnel ready to offer a hand.
We of course would like to extend our hopes and prayers for those who have been hurt and their families and, sadly, the families of those who have lost their lives.
The speed at which the news broke amazes me. I first heard about the explosions on Twitter. It wasn’t long after that when I saw the first images posted from Associated Press, live to their Twitter account. Facebook was slower on the uptake, but the news channels already had news and photos live on their pages and in their social media channels quickly. The photos made a lasting impression, as they always do. Which is why photojournalism is so very important. But I do question if perhaps social media is causing other problems, such as paranoia or racism. The Federal Government has yet to refer to this as a terrorist attack. It is an “act of terror”, officially, but that is a very different animal (that perhaps should be explained better or perhaps a better title should be used). But not more than a few moments after the explosion, I already saw hatred breeding across the social media channels. I read about those blaming Al Quaeda, or Muslims in general. One ignorant tweeter suggested that there should have been better security, perhaps some riflemen on the roofs along the running route – as if that would make any difference.
There was something to be said about the time when we needed to wait until the following day to read our headlines – or at least until the nightly news. There was a time when news media was far more responsible. Of course there was a time when photojournalism was less of a commodity. It’s not the photojournalist’s fault. His or her job hasn’t changed: Capture the news as it unfolds, capture imagery that will leave an impact and communicate the matter. The images have no less of an impact, it’s just that they are disseminated all that much quicker, without the facts to back it up. In the absence of a story, people fill in their own details.
I don’t believe the photojournalists need to change what they are doing. And I surely don’t believe there is any hope for the news media changing the way they do business. I fear that things will only get worse. But hopefully, we – the public – will start to realize that we need to be a little more patient. Photos such as these are horrifying. There’s no doubt that their impact will cut you deep. But I do hope that you – that everyone – will learn not to jump to conclusions. I hope everyone will learn to let the holes be holes until they are filled with facts and evidence.
In the days to come, we will learn more. Stay receptive and open-minded.