I’m lucky to have Facebook friends around the world. When the Arab Spring riots were occurring, I was chatting with people on the ground. Similarly the Fukushima disaster.
When the Manchester Arena was recently bombed, a British friend put me on to the story about fifteen minutes after Sky News reported it.
What followed was a running update, with critiques of the press where I saw them. As I was once a college instructor, I present it so that you may employ my techniques if you like.
May 22, 2017
|5:50pm||Sky News reports an explosion at Manchester Arena about an hour ago, at the end of an Ariana Grande concert.
Multiple fatalities are reported.
For those of you who, like I, are UK-geography-impaired:
Unsurprisingly (to me) Sky News is sensationalizing this the same as any US news outlet would.
The real facts — updated more-or-less as they occur — can be better found on the Manchester Evening News site. It’s a little sensationalized, but unlike national and international sources, their focus is on getting their citizens reunited with loved ones, etc.
I shouldn’t do this kind of prediction, because I think I’m made an incorrect on already. However, I’ve watched and listened to a number of these in-progress now.
There was an explosion in the foyer of the Manchester Arena. There are multiple fatalities.
Given the body language of the police on the scene, I’d have to guess that the incident itself is over. What we’re seeing is primarily panicked people who neither saw nor were impacted by the incident.
At least one eyewitness who claims to have been very near the explosion said she didn’t think much about it until some man screamed, “Run!!”
Videos of the venue largely show panic after the event rather than the event itself. There are no videos or pics of mangled bodies the way we usually associate with terrorism.
If it was a terrorist attack, I would have to assume it was (relatively) limited and that any attackers were themselves killed in the incident.
Other than that, the British press are free-associating. Again, the best I’ve found is the Manchester Evening News.
|7:18pm||It’s now a terrorist incident, possibly a pipe bomb. 19 fatalities and 50 injuries.
The best one can say is that it was confined to the foyer, which was probably the least-populated area of the arena at the time.
|7:20pm||Just released: the explosion was outside the arena near the foyer.|
|7:21pm||For reference, here’s a floorplan of the Manchester Arena. The foyer is essentially marked as “box office.”
|7:28pm||I love the natural narcissism displayed by journalists in these kinds of situations. Just overheard from a local reporter:
“This police cordon isn’t letting anything past — not even me!”
OMG, the cops won’t let some Sky News reporter into the crime scene?! How dare they!!
|7:34pm||Police warn that an explosion may be imminent and that residents shouldn’t worry. They may have found a possible second device and will be intentionally detonating it.|
|7:47pm||For my American friends who are probably ignorant (I was until a few minutes ago):
Manchester is a British city inland and east of Liverpool. It has a population of a little over 500K in the city itself, and ~2.5 million in the metro area.
Comparable US cities would be Omaha. Nebraska; Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota; and Denver, Colorado.
|7:50pm||Now Sky News is free-associating about pics and videos from social media and quoting US news sources. They’re really desperate with air time.|
|7:51pm||Free-associating Sky News Manchester reporter accidentally confirmed that the police have detonated the second device.
The reporter was all excited until the London office told her it was a controlled explosion.
|7:53pm||It wasn’t a second device. The police intentionally detonated it, but it turned out to be a bunch of clothes.|
|7:55pm||If I hear another reporter free-associate with non-witnesses about “how they feel,” I’m going to scream.
“There was an explosion that killed a bunch of people at the concert you were attending. How do you feel?”
Hm. Let me guess: they’re upset and scared.
This is not news. Stop filling with it. If you have no facts, say you have no facts.
|7:58pm||The sensationalism is palpable.
Sky News got a Facebook video that shows about thirty screaming people running down some stairs to the adjoining Victoria Station.
That’s all they have: about ten seconds of screaming.
They’ve put the noise of the screaming on an endless loop running in the background of their other video.
|8:03pm||Now free-associating about their video. “Shock,” “sheer terror,” “worrying,” all other manner of similar words are coming out of their mouths.
“Fear,” “sheer terror,” repeated over and over.
I’m not saying that people weren’t terrified. There’d be something wrong with them in they weren’t.
Feeling scared is not news. To continuously press it is sensationalism.
|8:15pm||Still free-associating. Amazingly quoting the American press who is saying that “an unnamed American official” is saying it’s terrorism.
Screw the American press. “unnamed officials” and “sources close to ____” are not reliable, validated sources. They are the beginning of a story, not the story itself.
Three named witnesses on the record, or it never happened and is not reported.
That absolutely includes emergencies. Poor press coverage during and following 9/11 has given conspiracy theorists an excuse to claim 9/11 was an inside job.
Here’s a tip: the press is constantly getting things wrong and making things up. You can almost ignore them completely for a month after an event like this.
Free-associating about injuries. Everyone seems to agree it was a pipe bomb (they’re calling it a “nail bomb,” but it’s basically the same).
Additionally, they’ve no evidence that it was filled with nails specifically. The injuries seem consistent with any kind of shrapnel at an explosive velocity.
|8:24pm||Not coincidentally, they’ve gone to politics now.
There’s an Election coming up in the UK, and they just can’t help going to, “How will this affect the Election?”
|8:33pm||Wow, they actually found eyewitnesses. They stationed a guy outside one of the Manchester hospital, and he started badgering anyone who wanted to talk.
A couple of them (off-camera) said they were teenagers in the vicinity with their grandfather. The grandfather suffered a shrapnel wound to the head and is being treated.
No other details other than someone who apparently claimed to have been blown backward by the explosion.
The press has no critical thinking skills.
Correct me if I’m wrong on this. I’m pretty sure if you’re close enough to an pipe bomb to be blown backward, you’re probably dead.
Whomever said that probably heard the explosion, felt some level of heat, and jumped away in surprise/fear.
|8:43pm||A local reporter misses the significance of what he just said, glomming onto someone who lived nearby.
The important thing that the reporter missed is that freeways leading away from the Arena are cordoned-off. There are helicopters overhead.
I would really have liked to know if the copters are doing a search or just orbiting. If they’re searching, that means they think there are other suspects.
Does he ask that question? Does he look up in the sky to see what the copters are doing?
Nope. He just gloms onto a neighbor for what amounts to a non-story about what it was like to see people running out of the Arena.
That’s not a story. Of course there was panic with people running out. Duh.
The story is the cordoned-off freeways and what the copters are doing, dumb-ass.
|9:19pm||The facts as of this timestamp. I’m not a journalist, but here’s how a good one would write the story right now.
At approximately 00:28 UTC, there was an explosion at the Manchester Arena in the United Kingdom. There are 19 confirmed deaths and approximately 50 injuries being treated at six local hospitals.
The explosion occurred shortly after an Ariana Grande concert. Victims’ names have not been released.
Police are currently treating this as a terrorist incident. They are coordinating with national and international agencies.
A hotline has been established for concerned concert-goers, their friends, and relatives. That number is:
Citizens who may have information or concerns are advised to contact the national terrorism hotline at:
Facebook has activated Safety Check for the Manchester, UK area. The URL is:
Police warn citizens to stay away from the vicinity of the Manchester Arena and to remain vigilant.
The explosion appears to have been in one of the network of tunnels allowing access to seating. It appears to have been caused by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED).
There is currently no information regarding any suspects.
Shortly after the explosion, a male with an American accent came on the Arena PA. He advised concert-goers that there was no cause for alarm and that they should proceed slowly and calmly to the exits.
A panic ensued. No associated injuries have been reported.
Multiple police and first responders converged on the scene. They cordoned-off the area, provided emergency treatment to victims, and directed the evacuation of the arena.
One of the victims was a man attending the concert with his teenaged grandson. The man sustained a head injury and is being treated at a local hospital.
Ariana Grande is unharmed.
Grande, local, national, and world government heads have expressed their sympathies and condemnations. Various UK politicians have suspended their campaigns for the upcoming Election.
A suspicious package was subsequently located by police. Once isolated, it was intentionally detonated. The package contained clothing.
Streets and freeways leading away from the Arena have been cordoned-off. All trains in and out of the adjoining Manchester Victoria Station have been suspended. There are at least two helicopters in the area.
May 23, 2017
|8:32am||A 23-year-old man has been arrested in South Manchester in connection with the bombing.|
|9:36am||ABC News in the US has located a witness who claims to have seen multiple dead bodies and other injured individuals at the area of the explosion.|
|9:53am||The confirmed casualties at this time: 22 dead, 59 injured.
Of the 59 injuries, 12 are under 16 years of age. This is approximately 20% of the injuries. The children are being treated at Manchester Children’s Hospital.
8-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos is confirmed to be among the dead.
At this time, the only video of the explosion was captured on the dashcam of a car parked several blocks away.
The Manchester Arena is the curved structure to the immediate left of the building at which the camera is pointed.
The explosion occurs at timecode 00:08. It can be seen as a brief flash of light at the Arena. The report from the explosion is head almost immediately.
The remainder of the video is the vehicle’s occupant reacting to the explosion
Close comparison between the previous video and Google Earth/Streetview shows that the footage was taken from the Total P Car Park at approximately this position:
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