Home Brick Life Editorial: Why It’s Important to Report on Bomb Threats

Editorial: Why It’s Important to Report on Bomb Threats

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Police Lights (Photo: Jason Rojas/Flickr)
Police Lights (Photo: Jason Rojas/Flickr)

When a bomb threat was called in to the Ocean County Mall this week, worry throughout the county ensued. Parents, spouses, friends and neighbors worried about people they care about who were working at mall businesses, and law enforcement families worried about their loved ones who were called in to investigate. Motorists passing by saw a massive police response, and word spread, with little information being initially available as to what was happening.

That is why it is important for the media to responsibly report such incidents and do its part to guide the communities they serve through such frightening incidents, even if they ultimately turn out to be unfounded. Evacuations of schools, malls and hospitals are serious incidents that affect members of our community, and they occur regardless of whether an explosive device is actually present.

On Friday, the Asbury Park Press announced that its reporters would no longer cover such stories, and that the staff would monitor situations and report on them only if a threat is determined to be real. We disagree, and believe this is the wrong decision for two reasons.

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First, it is the job of the media to accurately report the news – not to judge whether the news neatly fits into certain self-determined parameters before it is fit for public consumption. Families and friends of those affected by evacuations – especially when they involve sensitive locations such as schools or hospitals – deserve to have reporters working to bring them quality, confirmed information instead of having to rely solely on the proverbial “rumor mill.”

Second, we believe that micromanaging the topics on which staff can report is indicative of a media culture that deems its own readers unable to comprehend the nuances of what is happening in the world around them. Frankly, we feel our readers are smart enough to form their own view. We’re here to provide the facts and the context in order to assist them in doing so.

The purpose of this editorial is not to attack or discredit the Asbury Park Press, its reporters, or even its management. The Press does fine work on a daily basis, especially with regard to large-scale stories of regional interest. But in the digital age, where social media and instant communication drive rumors and inaccuracies faster than a fire on a windy day, the responsibility of the press to report the facts and keep the community properly informed is more important than ever before.

We promise to do our part.


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  • Brian Mirsky

    Well said, as always!

  • Agree completely. Readers are always going to have questions, and incidents like these are going to have many panicking and worrying about the safety of family members. Responsibly providing the details as they are available in addition to word from authorities is a great service to the public in the age of digital media. While their positive intention in making that decision seems to be sincere, arbitrarily curating / censoring topics of coverage is not a decision that is in the best interest of readers. But fortunately, we have a choice in media outlets, especially in the digital age, so other outlets will pick up where the APP left off there.

  • Goodgrief

    I guess if we are now talking about digital media it is fine for me to compliment Dan on the crisp clean format of the Brick Shorebeat. Gavin I read yours too daily and find the format less user friendly. Not being from Lacey the political theme is not that interesting to me but I do find topical info often.

    • Different folks will have different tastes in format, so I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with me here. If I may, what in particular do you believe to be less user friendly compared to the old design? The site was recently moved over to a new design to modernize and allow future expansion, so there will undoubtedly be “growing pains”, but I am always open to suggestions. Lacey politics are not for the faint of heart, but they are certainly my favorite topic to cover, especially with the primary coming up Tuesday. It’s a part of my town that hasn’t got a lot of attention, and with various factions splitting up the local partisan politics it has made for some entertaining comment threads / meetings. I try to fill in the gaps where some of the more “traditional” outlets have left off. No two towns are going to have the exact same demands, so I try to cater to Lacey’s needs exclusively rather than stretching myself too thin. I will agree with you and also say that Dan has done a great job on the format here. That being said, I’m glad that you find it of interest.

      • Goodgrief

        I apologize for not being more clear but didn’t want you to think I was attacking your site. What I was trying to say is for the reasons I read a site in Lacey the crime and activities section is the most important. You have a lot of data squeezed into your space and it is not as easy to scan as this one is. I have little interest in Brick politics too. Your efforts to provide daily coverage is definitely a plus for Ocean County. So thank you.

  • NGH144

    The phone companies need to find a way to trace these “ghost” calls so the people that are making them can be arrested.

  • SB

    ^^^^ Agree completely!