While the bombings at the Boston Marathon and the week of confusion that followed spawned some of the worst journalism in recent memory, it also gave some very talented journalists and writers an opportunity to shine.
Here is a roundup of some of the best stories, chosen by readers and myself, about the week’s events:
In an instant, a perfect day had morphed into something viscerally evil.
The location and timing of the bombs was sinister beyond belief, done purposely to maximize death and destruction. Among those who watched in horror as a fireball belched out across the sidewalk on Boylston were the parents of the schoolkids murdered in Newtown, Conn. The Atlantic reported they were sitting in a VIP section at the finish line, across the street from the explosion.
One nurse told me she remembered EMTs running out to the site of the explosion the moment the bombs burst. “They were off before I could blink,” she said. Many physicians followed. “After I saw a guy in a wheelchair coming into the tent with a head wound,” Rouzier said, “I decided to go to the scene.” He texted his wife what might be a good-bye message: There’s a bomb at the finish line and we have to help. “I didn’t want to die,” he said, “but there were people out there.”
Talking to people about that day, I was struck by how ready and almost rehearsed they were for this event. A decade earlier, nothing approaching their level of collaboration and efficiency would have occurred. We have, as one colleague put it to me, replaced our pre-9/11 naïveté with post-9/11 sobriety. Where before we’d have been struck dumb with shock about such events, now we are almost calculating about them. When ball bearings and nails were found in the wounds of the victims, everyone understood the bombs had been packed with them as projectiles. At every hospital, clinicians considered the possibility of chemical or radiation contamination, a second wave of attacks, or a direct attack on a hospital. Even nonmedical friends e-mailed and texted me to warn people about secondary and tertiary explosive devices aimed at responders. Everyone’s imaginations have come to encompass these once unimaginable events.
- 4:09:43, Interactive Graphic, The New York Times
One week ago — at approximately 2:50 p.m. on Monday, just over four hours into the race — the first of two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. This image, taken from the NBC broadcast of the race, shows the flash of the explosion and the final split-second of normalcy before the area turned into what witnesses described as a war zone. Here are the stories of the runners and spectators seen in this image.
The story of how Boston resident Carlos Arredondo helped save the life of a man severely wounded in the Marathon bombings began nearly nine years ago.
Arredondo, now known worldwide as the man in a cowboy hat photographed wheeling an injured bombing victim on April 15, saw his life change dramatically — on his 44th birthday, Aug. 25, 2004. On that day, Marine officers in a government van arrived at the driveway of his home in Florida.
“He woke up under so much drugs, asked for a paper and pen and wrote, ‘bag, saw the guy, looked right at me,’” Chris Bauman said yesterday in an interview.
The work was painstaking and mind-numbing: One agent watched the same segment of video 400 times. The goal was to construct a timeline of images, following possible suspects as they moved along the sidewalks, building a narrative out of a random jumble of pictures from thousands of different phones and cameras.
“We were off scene and at the hospital in three minutes,” he said. “Overall we might have got the call, picked up Donohue and arrived at the hospital in eight minutes. I didn’t find out my brother was the one driving until we got to the hospital.”
It was over. The jubilation began to spread. A slow procession of emergency vehicles made their way through a gauntlet formed by the growing crowd. The ambulances, the cop cars, even the Watertown utility truck whose giant flood lights had illuminated Tsarnaev’s final hiding place were ushered through with grateful cheers. “You can set us back, but you can’t knock us down!” screamed the man in the sleeveless T-shirt.
Disclosure: Jeff Howe, who wrote “Captured in Watertown,” is a professor at Northeastern University who I work with on some stories. I didn’t participate in any aspect of the reporting, writing or editing of “Captured in Watertown.”