Burriss on Media: Bombs & Maps

Apr 29, 2013

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (BURRISS)  --  We all know television can bring us memorable visuals, and can provide an immediacy that is, quite frankly, impossible for newspapers and magazines. But that immediacy can lead to lack of details that can only be developed over time.

I’m not talking about errors that come from not having enough time to completely check sources and facts. I’m talking about how newspapers, and magazines, can provide documentation not available via video.

When we saw video of the Boston Marathon bombing it was almost impossible to tell what was going on, and where explosions, runners and spectators were in relation to each other.

But after the bombings, newsrooms in the United States and around the world produced interactive maps and features to help their readers understand the locations and chronologies of the bombings themselves, the medical treatment of victims, and the hunt for the bombers.

The Boston Globe, for example, used a street map and series of satellite photos to produce a simple series of response diagrams and a timeline of the explosion site. These maps, combining both drawings and photographs, allowed readers to take their time and follow the sequence of events immediately before and after the explosions. I bet readers got a lot more information than they got watching a fleeting image on television.

Two days after the explosions newspapers were running detailed stories about medical treatment, with diagrams of triage stations. The New York Times combined a still from video of the explosion with an aerial view of the finish line to show who was where precisely when the bomb exploded.

No doubt television news can take us right to the scene, right now. But if you want details that have been checked, and gives you a chance to really see what has happened in the news, print still can’t be beat.

I’m Larry Burriss.