Bomb and other threats

When should bomb and similar threats be reported?

Even before the era of international terrorism, bomb threats were common. Bomb and other threats are even more frequent now and are taken more seriously by authorities.

Some news organizations consider any such threat in their community to be news. Even if it’s a transparently false threat to a school by students trying to get out of an exam or a false fire alarm, it says something about the students and is fair game for coverage.

Other journalists are warier about reporting bomb threats, especially if there’s no particular reason to think the threat is real. They feel that reporting every threat plays into the hands of those who make false threats and dulls the public’s sensitivity to threats that are truly significant.

A threat must cause some kind of public disruption — evacuation of an airport terminal, etc. — before these journalists would cover it.

The main author of this section is Thomas Kent.