BBG Broadcasters Provide Unique, Global Coverage of Boston Bombings

Ruslan Tsarni, uncle of the suspected Boston bombers, speaks with VOA and other reporters.

Ruslan Tsarni, uncle of the suspected Boston bombers, speaks with VOA and other reporters.

Americans were not the only ones captivated by the events unfolding in Boston last week. The Boston Marathon brings visitors from around the world – 96 countries were represented in this year’s race, according to Boston Athletic Association’s website. So when the attacks occurred, the broadcasters of the BBG immediately began providing relevant and comprehensive coverage of the events to its international audiences.

All of BBG’s broadcasters, which include the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Alhurra and Radio Sawa, and Radio and TV Martí, provided breaking news on Monday’s twin explosions and the resulting manhunt. VOA, RFE/RL and MBN immediately sent reporters and camera crews to Boston to get important information to their audiences.

Our broadcasters also brought reactions of those who witnessed the attacks firsthand. RFA reported on Chinese eye witnesses who had posted frequent updates to Twitter and Weibo. Voice of America interviewed, in broadcast languages, eyewitnesses including an Indonesian runner who was just two blocks from the finish line when the blasts occurred, a Turkish-American who had been running the race to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis, and a Ukrainian couple who had flown to Boston in order to participate in the marathon. VOA also spoke with Chinese students living in Boston and is producing a special report on Lu Lingzi, the graduate student from China who was killed in the blast.

Alhurra Television, which broadcasts in Arabic to the Middle East, interviewed Egyptian and Saudi first responders who helped save lives in the immediate aftermath of the bombings. Alhurra reporters also reached race spectators from the Saudi community in Boston and spoke to the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia Saud Al-Faisal, who expressed his condolences for the families of Boston.

With the revelation that the suspects are Chechen, RFE/RL and VOA stepped in with unique coverage including reaction from the region and background on the suspects. RFE/RL’s extensive network in the region made it possible to quickly produce a profile of Tamerlan and Dzhokar Tsarnaev, speak with family members and former teachers from the region and provide insight and context into the two brothers and their homeland. RFE/RL’s North Caucasus Service Director Aslan Doukaev also hosted an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit.com.

Alhurra TV also got reaction to the suspected bombers’ background, speaking with a student at Al Azahr University in Cairo. The student is a moderate Muslim from Chechnya, and he shared his feelings after learning the identity of the bombing suspects.

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