News Frenzy in Watertown


The late-night shootout and subsequent manhunt for the suspects in the Boston bombing attacks played out in riveting real time on networks and online.

The coverage began late Thursday night, and gained steam as the hours passed. Eventually, every network was devoting wall-to-wall coverage to the hunt.

Authorities launched an immediate investigation after news broke that an MIT officer had been shot late Thursday night. Cable networks reported the shooting towards the end of their primetime lineups, but were careful to say that it had no connection to the bombing at that time.

While national networks mostly turned off for the night, local Boston news stations sprung into breaking news mode, as the scene where the MIT officer was shot quickly turned into an attempted car-jacking, violent shootout and manhunt.

The local stations, along with the usual army of journalists, armchair investigators, and civilians flooding Twitter, had already been glued to the story for hours when national stations jumped in.

By 1:20 a.m. on Friday, CNN broke in with live coverage from the Boston suburb of Watertown, just after a major firefight took place between officers and shooters.

A few minutes later, Fox News broke in with coverage. About ten minutes after that, MSNBC turned to the shootings in Watertown. Mara Schiavocampo anchored NBC's coverage. Jake Tapper and Drew Griffin reported for CNN. Bill Hemmer eventually took over for Fox News.

Given the hour, networks were not always deploying their top anchors. Viewers who may not have ever seen "World News Now" or "Early Today" were quickly introduced to new faces.

Coming off a week of embarrassing and at-times reckless misreports on the bombing, anchors exercised extreme caution in connecting the early morning events in Watertown to Monday's bombing. Just before 2:30 a.m., The Boston Globe went out ahead of other publications and reported that the incidents were in fact related, and that one of the two suspects from the Marathon bombing was in custody.

Just after 4:00 a.m., NBC News confirmed that the shootout was related to the bombings. After that, police confirmed that one suspect had died.