Bomb Threat Coverage
KOMU has a book with all of the schools in the state of Missouri, and is responsible for giving out emergency information about these schools, such as closings and early dismissals. But this week, we're talking about bomb threats, and why you won't see coverage of most school bomb threats on KOMU news.
One viewer wanted to know, "Why was there no story on the bomb threat that happened at Hickman High School? I went around on the Internet and saw that all of the Columbia newspapers, the other Columbia TV station and even the Jefferson City TV station both reported it. Why did KOMU have nothing on it?"
KOMU news director Stacey Woelfel explained the station's policy regarding such issues.
"We had nothing on it because a bomb threat is not news. It's really just an attempt to get attention or cause a stir and so we don't cover that. In all the year's I've been doing this, there's only been one threat that turned out to be a real bomb and it wasn't at a school," he said.
The Radio Television News Director's Association (RTNDA) has issued guidelines for news stations to use when covering bomb threats. According to RTNDA, reporting a false threat could lead to copycat threats, and raise the public's level of insecurity when it is not warranted. Repeated broadcasting of bomb hoaxes can have the effect of "crying wolf," with the public becoming less responsive when actual danger arises.