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Definition of news changes with time
March 21, 2011 - Jim Smith
For years many newspapers operated on the premise that reporting incidents of bomb threats could encourage copy cat threats. The fear was if a newspaper reports a bomb threat, it will encourage more bomb threats.
Consequently, most newspapers would only report such incidents if there was a bomb found, there was a large public disturbance, there was an arrest made or if there were a series of threats that resulted in community panic or were made to cover other crimes.
A few years ago there were a couple of bomb threats at one end of Parkersburg made minutes before a financial institution on the other end of the city was robbed. Obviously the bomb threats were made to tie up law enforcement in the belief police would be unable to respond to a robbery-in-progress report. Just for the record, the robbers were arrested and convicted, so their attempt at deception apparently didn't work very well.
Years ago some college officials in Columbus said they could always tell when midterms and finals were being given because that's when there would be bomb threats made at the college. The same has been the reason for some high school bomb threats, police learned after arresting the culprits.
The issue of reporting or not reporting bomb threats has somewhat changed over the years with the advent of cell phones, Facebook, instant messaging and text messaging. There also has been a change in the level of seriousness law enforcement places on bomb threats. There was a time years ago when law enforcement did not place much credibility on bomb threats, but that changed as too many of those threats became reality and threats of school violence left the dead and wounded in schools and businesses.
Now, the news media has changed its philosophy on reporting bomb threats, based on how wide spread the incidents are, how serious law enforcement and school officials place on them and whether schools and businesses are evacuated. If the threat is taken serious ,there probably will be a story on it. If the threat is not taken seriously and does not affect the public, there probably will not be a story on it until an arrest is made.
What is news and how it is covered constantly is changing, which makes it difficult to sometimes know what's in the best interest of readers.
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