On April 15th, 2013, international attention shifted to Boston, where two bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. In the same week, bomb blasts across Iraq killed 42 people, explosions at a Texas fertilizer plant killed 14, and a 7.0 magnitude earthquake left almost 200 dead in Sichuan province, China. The following week, 80 dead bodies were found in Damascus, Syria, after days of intense fighting. While major news outlets did cover these events, it was not with the same intensity as the events in Boston and places connected with the events. In this analysis, we look to news sources at increasing distances from the marathon bombings to see how media attention shifted around the globe before, during and after the Boston bombings.

Research Questions:
  • Can we see evidence that the closer an event occurred to a news source’s geographic focus, the more attention it paid to the event? And did that attention stretch over a longer period of time?
  • Did the international media pay a disproportionate amount of attention to the Boston bombings in comparison to other tragedies in Texas, Iraq and Syria, even if Boston usually stands in that news source’s periphery?
  • How did attention paid to each of these events shift over time? Did stories closer to a news source’s focus have a longer tail?

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How Close to Home? (Interactive Web Version)