Ethnic profiling or good reporting on deadline?
As the Fort Hood shootings story unfolded last week, many details that were reported initially proved to be incorrect. At one point, some news outlets reported that three suspected Islamic gunmen were responsible for the massacre. As the story developed, news outlets were quick to identify the shooter as a Muslim. Charlie Gibson, on ABC News, for instance called him A Muslim soldier in his first reference. Alan Mutter, a former editor and now a media consultant and professor, called the coverage “ugly ethnic profiling.” Richard Prince, in a column for the Maynard Institute, said much of the news media was careful in its reporting – but not everyone. Read both Mutter and Prince in the links I’ve included.
Now read this report about the news coverage after the Oklahoma City bombing.
Then give me your carefully considered comments in the comments section below. Was it OK to identify the Fort Hood shooter as a Muslim even before any links to Islamic extremists or terrorism were determined? Would it have been handled the same way if he was Catholic or Baptist? As breaking news develops, what kinds of questions should editors ask before race or ethnicity is included in a story? What does AP say about this? Did the story about the Oklahoma City coverage change your thinking at all?
Your comments are due at the start of class on Thursday, Nov. 12.