Should Bomb Threats Be Reported By The Media?
Life was disrupted Thursday night for motorists who cross the Mississippi River on the Mark Twain Bridge when an anonymous caller to the Marion County 911 Center stated there was a possible bomb or explosive device on the bridge. Traffic was prevented from crossing the bridge after the 8:45 p.m. call that night. Rail traffic was also affected with this incident. Traffic crossing the Mississippi River had to be diverted to the Champ Clark Bridge in Louisiana to the south or the Memorial or Bayview Bridges in Quincy to the north. Several hours later, after law enforcement agencies on both sides of the river were called to check the bridge, the bridge was declared safe and was reopened.
Obviously, the inconvenience for motorists was monumental because of this troublesome event. It led me to thinking about the age old debate for newsrooms, not only here but everywhere, about whether or not to report bomb threats.
It is obvious the caller was looking for attention and by reporting it, he or she got just that, plus it opens up more copycat incidents in the future. On the other hand, not reporting it would lead more people to be inconvenienced by the bridge closure. So what should the media do with these bomb threats? When I talked about it on the air, I called it an "incident" and was a vague as I could be.
Some newsrooms refuse to report them and others do report those threats. So if you were a News Director, would you report a bomb threat that was made or not? I'd love to hear your thoughts!