In Crash Coverage, Networks Use ‘Terrorism’ With Care

By Andrew Gauthier 

The New York Times

The early bulletins from Austin, Tex., were chilling: “small plane into a building.”

Cable news anchors, who make a living partly by speculating about the news, tried to strike a balance between alarming viewers and explaining what they did and did not know. Repeatedly, the anchors cautioned that there was no immediate link to terrorism.

“Whether this was simply an accident or, uh, something intentional, we do not know, but were told that the building houses the local offices of the F.B.I.,” the Fox News Channel anchor Jon Scott said in the network’s first report.

The report about the F.B.I. turned out to be inaccurate (the office was nearby, not in the same building), but the anchors were wise to speak with caution. More…