Better East Texas: Bomb threats and media coverage

BET: Bomb threats and media coverage

(KLTV) - One of the things every news organization is faced with every day is the review and determination of what goes into our newscasts and on our mobile content – what makes leads stories and what gets pushed out on our mobile app. Usually, the importance of individual stories is pretty obvious, and the news hierarchy falls into place.

But in recent years, we have been faced with the decision to cover or not to cover events involving our schools and children where bomb threats, threats of violence or terroristic actions - where the threat originates from social media or is called in to the school or delivered through some other means. In the vast majority of cases, the threats are thankfully empty and designed to disrupt the school day without any true acts of violence. But obviously they can do more than disrupt a day as the emotional impact and procedural impact can oftentimes be felt for days following. They take their toll.

We typically don’t cover those events on our newscasts. Coverage would play right into the criminal’s hand of being disruptive, while more publicity increases the disruption. Occasionally, some parents will tell us that we need to let the public know what is going on, but our position is that those who are affected do know. Our coverage will only spark copy cat actions at other campuses.

Now, if someone is arrested or school is dismissed early, we will inform the public in those instances. But we cannot be used as a pawn to magnify those bad actors. They don’t deserve the publicity, and we won’t take the bait.

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