How Crowdsourcing and Social Media Shaped the Manhunt

Makeshift memorial at the Boston bombing site. Attribution: John Hoey from Framingham, MA, United States, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

On April 15 2013, more than 500,000 people lined the streets of Boston Massachusetts to watch the Boston Marathon. It was around the four hour mark in the race, which is when families crowd around the finishing line to see the majority of the recreational runners finish. Then at about 2:50pm there were two explosions, the first right next to the finish and line and the second about 70 meters down the street. Three people were killed and at least 264 were injured.

The massive manhunt for the perpetrators was described by the New York Times as “America’s first fully…


The field of multimodal storytelling is expanding as new technologies, like Instagram Stories, become mainstream. Through the combined use of text, video, image, movement and more stories can be expressed in an infinite number of ways to increase audience engagement.

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Multimodality is an old linguistics concept. It’s the approach to understanding communication through the many modes that one message is delivered. For example, if you are having a face to face conversation with someone, you can interpret their message through the meaning of their words, but also through their vocal emphasis, expression and body language.

According to the UCL Institute of Education:

Multimodality is an interdisciplinary approach that understands communication and representation to be more than about language.

In the 21st century digital world multimodal takes on a new role as social media users can construct new meaning using many…


Microblogging is becoming a larger part of how we communicate. It offers interesting new ways of interacting and spreading information. There’re also some things to look out for.

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Let’s start with the basics. What is microblogging? It’s a big word for something most of us do all the time.

Microblogging is any sort of written content creation (blogging) that’s short (micro), usually very short. It describes very short traditional blogs, like those commonly used to send updates to consumers on big company websites. However it also describes the short text or multimedia posts that go up on social media sites.

According to Sprout Social microblogging is:

A combination of instant messaging and content production. With a microblog, you share short messages with an online audience to improve engagement.


When taking on any feat of journalism, there is a swamp of rules and laws that must be waded through. It’s not uncommon for professionals to take special courses in order to understand them. However most people involved in community radio have limited training.

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Sometimes it can be easy to forget when you’re hanging out with a friend behind a mic, that you aren’t free to say anything you want. People could be listening to you and they might complain about what you’re doing. If they complain about the right things, to the right people, you could end up in a world of hurt.

I’ve also found in my experience that the opposite can be true. As someone with some formal media training, but in no way an expert, that my knowing this can lead to crushing fear and an absolute inability to say…


Where does paid advertising fit in the role of community radio stations in the UK? What are the dangers and are there any alternatives?

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Radio stations are expensive to supply and run. The main source of income for commercial radio is through advertising and sponsorship that you here played on the air. This generally rings true for community stations as well with advertsing making up a substantial slice of the pie of most stations’ finances. Commercial stations main goal is to make money (though secondary goals may be included in their structure), community stations main goal is to serve their communities (but they must still raise funds to do this). This enviably changes the relationship community radio has with advertising.

In many countries community…


Community radio is known for having an eclectic mix of content, but is there a way to reach out to one sector without alienating the rest?

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Any media outlet needs consumers to stay afloat. If no one is listening, there’s no reason for a station to continue. In that case, radio stations need to produce content that appeals to a large audience in order to atract advertisers and justify it’s existence. Community radio stations differ from commercial stations because they have an interest representing unheard voices and appealing to underserved communities, despite the smaller audience size.

This can result in a calender with a mishmash of very niche shows that may not be apealling to the average listener. Unlike commercial stations, community stations may have the…


Community radio stations are built to give the whole community a platform, but trying to get the public to create a cohesive likeable product isn’t simple.

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Community media is meant to be created for and by the local community. Community radio stations range widely in size and focus (you can find stations for specific regions, music genres, age groups, ethnic communities, ect). One thing they all have in common is that are designed to be forums for their communities, not just speak to them.

The most pervasive way that community station represent the local voice is the integration of volunteers into the production of content and running of the station. According to Ofcom the average community radio station in the UK is run by a handful…


With the majority of the UK’s population stuck at home for an undetermined amount of time, the need for effective community media is more evident than ever.

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Since March 2020 the daily routinues of nearly every person across the country has been effected by the global coronavirus pandemic. For most of us this has included spending more time at home, loss of personal space and a struggle with feelings of isolation. A perhaps surprising tool that many have turned to is radio, especially community stations, which have preexisting commitments to serving their communities in a non-for-profit manner.

A study by RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Limited)on listening habits over the first UK lockdown has shown a major uptick in the number of people listening to radio at home…


3 Things I Wish I’d Known About Social Media

Growing up on the very edge of the Millenial generation (I was born in 1999) I’ve had the opurtunity to see pretty much the full spectrum of the development of social media. I was around to see the exciting birth of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but only recently have I seen the discussion of of their dangers.

I still see social media as a useful and, more importantly, unavoidable tool but here are somethings I wish I knew when I was introduced to the networks in the early 2000's.

1. Social Media Can be Very Addictive

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More and more studies have surfaced in the last five years…

Erin Snell

American abroad. Book nerd. Avid podcast and radio listener. Former Broadcast Assistant at Future Radio. Twitter: @ErinESnell1 Facebook @esnellblog

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