On his podcast Friday, as the networks were going wall-to-wall with live coverage of Boston, comedian and pundit Adam Carolla questioned whether Boston coverage was excessive. Matt Wilstein at Mediaite transcribed the conversation, which should be a journalism-school topic in the weeks to come.
“Boston is three people dead, and quite a few injured,” Carolla said, “but it’s three people dead. There’s that many people during the course of this podcast, that many people times ten that die out on the highways.” Meanwhile, he pointed out, the death toll in the Texas explosion was up to 15 or higher.
“That’s the whole thing” about this country, Carolla theorized. “We’re not really into math, we’re into feelings. We don’t do math when it comes to solving whatever ills our society has, and we’re not really into it when it comes to body counts.”
Certainly, there were other factors in the discrepancy. The Boston Marathon is a famous athletic event in a large city, unlike a town few have heard of – West, Texas, which isn’t actually in west Texas. One had bombers on the loose, and the other one was an industrial accident.
Bringing it back to “the Boston thing,” he said, “that somehow struck a nerve” whereas the believes people are chalking up the Texas explosion to “[stuff] happens.” But “if a terrorist touched off that plant, then now we’ve got an issue.”
The academic debate could explore geography as a factor. Boston is a pretty quick drive from Manhattan-based networks. But few national outlets are going to be as eager to send their “team coverage” to a little town outside Waco.
If there was an industrial accident that killed 15 in Boston, and a bombing that killed three at a small-town Texas parade, would the bombing still be the larger story? Or would Boston still win in the news calculus?