Monday, August 6, 2012

Media watchers wonder whether newspapers are giving Sikh shooting in Oak Creek same level of coverage as Aurora shooting, but review of front pages show story leads most daily newspapers

Twitter is rife with media watchers questioning whether the shooting in Oak Creek, Wisconsin of Sikh worshippers is getting the same level of coverage as the Aurora, Colorado shooting. But a look at the Newseum this morning, that wonderful and useful collection of front pages, shows most daily newspapers are leading with the Sikh shooting story.
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It is tempting to immediately jump to the conclusion that there is something nefarious going on at newspapers this morning, but the charge seems premature.

Michael Roberts, writing for Westword, jumps all over the Denver Post and the New York Times by showing the Denver Post's soft news front page (it is bad) and also the NYT's website. At least as far as the NYT is concerned he is out of line. The NYT led with the story throughout most of Sunday before the Mars landing took over the top spot around midnight. The story is now holding a top spot on the home page as new information is appearing on the shooter.

The big unknown part of the story of the Oak Creek story is how was the shooter and why did he commit his crime of entering a Sikh temple and shooting dead six worshippers. Police withheld any information on the shooter, who was himself shot dead by police, until this morning. That meant that for much of yesterday evening there was little information beyond what had been available all day Sunday.

Despite the lack of new information, it appears that most daily newspapers led with the shooting story. Newspapers from California to DC placed the story as its lead, or at least at the top of the front page. Even the Denver Post, which Roberts criticized, had the story "above the fold".
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The Aurora, Colorado story may appear to have been played up more, but it must be remembered that it was a local story for the Denver Post. Also, since the shooter was captured, there was the added element of wanting to see and hear from the accused. (The timing was also very different. Because the Sikh temple shooting occurred in the morning, national cable news outlets could lead with the story throughout the day.)

Now that the shooter has been identified, Wade Michael Page, a 4-year old white Army veteran with a racist past, the story will naturally shift. The investigators, led by the FBI, are treating the case as a domestic terrorism case. It will be interesting to see if a case of domestic terrorism, committed by a white male against those of another religion will lead to a national discussion of America's national bout of insanity since 9/11.

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