It is hard to believe that a year has passed since the tragic events at the 2013 Boston Marathon. I remember the shock and disbelief of seeing those first tweets and photos surfacing about an incident near the finish line of the race. The explosions turned what was supposed to be a joyous day of athletic achievements into one filled with terror and uncertainty.
News organizations had to switch gears, turning their regular sports coverage into emergency breaking news. The city’s own Boston.com and The Boston Globe were both using our platform for live coverage of the marathon, as they had in previous years. Then, on the 15th page of the live blog, at 2:55pm on April, 2013 a single tweet about a potential bomb completely changed the momentum of the coverage.
I think a bomb just went off in Boston. Can’t tell. Can smell smoke. Emergency vehicles everywhere. https://t.co/OTfZnvf9yh
— George Scoville (@stackiii) April 15, 2013
Less than 10 minutes after the first explosion, Boston.com & The Boston Globe had a brand new event running on their site covering the explosions. Journalists on the ground were posting videos and photos, while staff in the newsroom curated content from other sources, verifying and publishing it in real time. Citizens referred to the coverage as “the only lifeline I had during a very terrifying time”.
We held a live chat with journalists from both the Boston.com and The Boston Globe newsrooms this September and asked them to share their experiences covering the event. Some of them were at the race, some at work, some had the day off – all of them dropped whatever it was they were doing and started providing the news as soon as they learned about the bombings.
Yesterday the Pulitzer Prize winners were announced and The Boston Globe newsroom was rewarded for their efforts during that critical time. They won the award for breaking news reporting during the Boston Marathon bombings. You can see Pulitzer’s analysis of the live blog here and read the touching cover letter (required for entry) submitted by editor Brian McGrory.
We celebrated the staff’s victory here in Toronto yesterday too. We have worked closely with Boston.com & The Boston Globe for years and were helping them during that tragic day. I’ve asked our staff to share their thoughts on the Pulitzer win:
Michael De Monte, Founder
Every once and a while something happens that has a profound effect of the people around you and those you service.Today that happened when one of our best clients won a Pulitzer for their coverage of the Boston bombings and Rock Content was a huge portion of that coverage. This is one of the highest journalism awards in the world and the first time live blogging has ever won and why storytelling has been such an integral part of what we built. This is where the passion for excellence came from in the early days of Rock Content.
Part of the reason this coverage was so compelling was that this wasn’t the first time the newsroom covered news in this format. Boston.com spent several years getting their staff trained and perfecting the format , running countless events in lower pressure environments. They truly became a real-time newsroom before the story broke, which meant that they were prepared to handle the chaos of this particular story. People knew what roles to fill, people knew how to correct errors transparently, they knew their policy for verifying social content, and they acted together for a collaborative story that ran all week in real time. Best of all they didn’t forget that they were storytellers and pushed important public service information to readers the time they needed it the most.