If you haven’t heard of the National News Nightly already, here’s what you need to know. Just like CNN, it’s a news channel – an important one, which holds what every channel wants – that six o’clock slot. Owned by the National News Network, it’s under the presidency of Roxanne Jeffries. The NNN aims, every single day, to bring honest, fact-checked, validated news to the general public; more than anything, its reporters value journalistic integrity and a code of ethics that make it a credible news source. And this morning, twenty members of the NNN’s Executive Board walked into work expecting coffee… And got something else – a bomb.
They didn’t know it was a bomb at first. The only information – that there had been an explosion in downtown Boston’s Quincy Market. There was reason to believe that it had been caused intentionally and not by any malfunction. The Executives had one thought – what next? Plans were made – to interview witnesses, police officers, government officials; to contact the Mayor of Boston for a statement; to call Homeland Security and the Department of Safety; to send investigative teams to the site of the explosion; and to get live footage of the destruction the NNN’s 24-hour news channel. But first, more intel arrived – Reddit users had somehow ‘identified’ three potential suspects from footage of the area (two were named – Amir Jihad and Juan Martinez). All over social media, people were asking, “But what about our newspapers? Where are they?”
After lots of in-depth discussion, the NNN’s first action was to use every news outlet they had to send out the same message- that there had been an explosion in Boston, the source was unknown, and investigations were ongoing. In an attempt to avoid sensationalism and the feeding of Islamophobia, the network didn’t speculate on whether the explosion was a terrorist attack. It offered condolences to those affected and promised updates as it got information, like the number of casualties. Not only was the network dealing with the explosion crisis, but also a number of international updates on channels all around the world. Women had rioted in Eastern Europe to promote abortion rights; stocks had risen; a trial for HIV reversal had had good results; Nigeria had won the bid for the 2020 Olympics; and most important, Donald Trump had fallen down while exiting his plane. Trying to fit everything into a one hour-show? Not easy.
Constantly investigating, the NNN received more information – the Mayor’s statement, reactions from celebrities all over the country, and information that the police hotline had been absolutely flooded with calls from internet-fueled speculators, sure that they had a lead. It hindered the investigation so much that by the time the NNN got word of the public investigation forum that had been set up on Reddit, several non-suspects’ private information was already out. Fear and doubt had bred violence. The paper stressed on the importance of credible sources and confirmed facts. Luckily, the police identified the culprit soon – John Garrison, a member of the white supremacist group Brothers For Liberty. His picture was published, along with police contact details for sightings. The explosion footage wasn’t released out of respect to the victims of the bomb. Problem solved, right?
But then there was a bomb on the El-train in Chicago. The attacker posted on Tumblr just minutes before the attack, saying that seeing Garrison’s picture in the news had inspired him. He admired Garrison’s work and wanted to recreate it. That was what led to the copycat attack. It took a lot of debate for the Executives to decide what to do next. Would reporting this lead to a third copycat? No way to know for sure. But wouldn’t not reporting it violate the people’s right to information? Finally, the NNN decided that they needed to report it. While it was no one’s fault that the bomb had been planted, it called for all cities to up their security. No more information has been received since then. As far as the NNN and government knows, the criminals are still at large. The second the NNN finds out more, it’ll be on your screen.