Twitter as Mythmaker In Storytelling: The Emergence of Hero Status by the Boston Police Department in the aftermath of the 2013 Marathon Bombing

Don Krause, Mark Smith


Early adopters of Twitter include traditional news media and government entities. Through a close examination of tweets, this critical study focused on how the Boston Police Department employed traditional informational storytelling, usually reserved for the news media, to narrate the mythical archetype of “hero” in its tweets during the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. A significant finding in this study is that Boston police exercised not only its physical might, through pursuits and a highly visible arrest, but also its influence to maintain social order during and after the crisis. Although Boston police may not have actively sought “hero” status in the week-long pursuit of suspects, this study concludes that an analysis of police tweets helped fashion heroic imagery. There are serious implications for journalism because Twitter affords opportunities for non-traditional, primary “storytellers,” such as Boston police, who compete for social media attention with unfiltered content in times of crisis.


Twitter; myth; hero; social media; police; Boston Marathon; storytelling

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