Articles about "Colorado theater shooting"


Few answers for reporter who covered Columbine, then Aurora theater shooting

I am a local television reporter.

I never traveled to Afghanistan. I didn’t cover the war in Iraq. I work for CBS in Denver, Colorado. To foreign network correspondents, that might seem dull. But they haven’t covered a mass school shooting in a suburb. They haven’t been awakened at two a.m. to dash off to a mass shooting at a movie theater.

I opted for a career covering my community. I wanted a balance of family life and journalism. At some point, in my twenties, I decided to abandon network glamour for community involvement.

But no one told me I’d be interviewing parents who lost their children because they went to school at one day. No one warned me that the deaths of young people would come, not in a war zone, but in a suburban movie theater.

I never envisioned that not once, but twice, in my career, I would have parents come up to me frantic and fearful, begging for news of their children, only to tell them I had no news to share. Their children, first at Columbine High School, and now at Theater Nine in Aurora, were dead.

A poster in memory of Veronica Moser-Sullivan, 6, is shown at the memorial to victims of the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting, Friday, July 27, 2012. (Ted S. Warren/AP)

Somehow, in my journalism classes at Stanford, no professors warned me that I would have to report on live TV while fighting tears. My journalism classes didn’t teach me how to act composed when fear and heartbreak were my prevailing emotions. Somehow my study in journalism didn’t prepare me for the emotional eavesdropping I do during the worst moment in a parent’s life.

I wish I could be detached from the 23-year-old whose memorial I covered last week after she was gunned down watching a Batman movie. I can’t. I have a 23-year-old of my own.

Denver, Colorado is a nice place to live. We have mountains, few mosquitoes, and a pleasant climate. Why do we keep having mass shootings? Why are our teens gunned down at the most innocent of venues?

My job is to ask questions. I wish someone would occasionally have a definitive answer.

Suzanne McCarroll has worked at CBS4 for 30 years. Read more


Jessica Ghawi remembered at memorial service for falling down, getting back up

KENS | Denver Post | San Antonio Express-News | Houston Chronicle
Murdered sports journalist Jessica Ghawi was remembered at a service in San Antonio Saturday. Eulogists mentioned her determination, her zest for life and her propensity to fall down.

San Antonio sports anchor Larry Ramirez said an “invisible banana peel” followed her through life, as exemplified by the now-famous YouTube video of Ghawi, who reported under the name Jessica Redfield, slipping repeatedly on a hockey rink’s ice as she interviewed a San Antonio Rampage player. The video was shown at the service.

Denver Post reporter Adrian Dater fills in a little bit about Ghawi’s life in Denver, where she moved to further her reporting career. She’d been laid off by a sushi restaurant a few days before she was shot during a showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” in a horrific act of mass murder. “Ghawi was figuratively knocked down plenty during her year of living in Denver,” Dater writes. “But the tenaciously ambitious, self-described ‘red-headed spitfire from Texas’ was a fighter, and nothing was going to keep her from pursuing big dreams.” Read more


ABC News president: Brian Ross’ Aurora shooting error ‘an unfortunate mistake’

During the Television Critics Association press tour this week, ABC News President Ben Sherwood said reporter Brian Ross’ incorrect speculation about the Aurora movie theater shooter “was an unfortunate mistake” that “did not live up to the standards and practices of ABC News.”

He also said the network was taking steps to avoid future mistakes of this nature.

ABC News already issued a public apology after investigative reporter Brian Ross went on “Good Morning America” and incorrectly said movie theater shooter James Holmes     may have been a member of a local tea party chapter.

The Los Angeles Times quoted Sherwood’s remarks at the Television Critics event: “We put something on the air that we did not know to be true and the part that we needed to be true was not germane to the story we were covering,” he said.

Sherwood added “that the network was taking steps to make sure it does not happen again, although he declined to say specifically what those steps were.”

He also told the audience Ross had contacted the wronged Mr. Holmes to apologize.

“This was an unfortunate mistake,” Politico also quotes Sherwood as saying. “We recognized it immediately, we owned it immediately, we corrected it immediately. We know that particular moment did not live up to the standards and practices of ABC News. I take responsibility for it. The buck stops with me and the news division knows how displeased I am with that.”

Good Morning America host George Stephanopoulos was on the air with Ross when he made the mistake. At the Television Critics event, he joined in by satellite to say, “This was a breaking news situation and people are going to make mistakes.”

Though Sherwood acknowledged Ross’ error, he defended another controversial piece of ABC News reporting. The network had reported that Holmes’ mother said “you have the right person” when it contacted her to ask if her son was the shooter. She has since said she was referring to herself to let the reporter know she was Holmes’ mother.

Sherwood said the network “stands by” its reported version of the conversation.

He however didn’t say anything about another recent dispute regarding his network’s reporting. After ABC News reported that Holmes was repeatedly spitting at his prison guards, yesterday an ABC affiliate in Colorado published a report that said the spitting claim was “simply false.” Read more

Pooled interview coverage

Denver TV stations pool interviews with theater shooting victims, families

Kevin Torres is a multimedia journalist for KUSA-TV, the NBC station in Denver. Usually he shoots, writes and edits his own stories.

On Tuesday, the key interview in his story was shot by the ABC station in town. On Wednesday, the Fox affiliate shot the interview for his story.

What began as a routine way for Denver stations to share the most mundane coverage of everyday press conferences and staged events has turned into a way for victims of last week’s theater shooting, and their families, to do one TV interview rather than dozens.

“The rules that we operate under are that a station can’t even look over what they shot until they feed it out to everybody,” Torres told me by email. “You can’t post it online, you can’t write about it until everybody in the pool has it.”

The stations started pooling coverage in 2009 when KUSA and KMGH agreed to share a news helicopter.

While journalists, of course, would like to do their own interviewing, Torres said the pool system is easier on the families.

“You have victims at three hospitals and you have families and victims who want to talk,” he said. “But in addition to the four local TV stations, there are stations from around the country here, plus the networks. Nobody wants 40 or 50 cameras in their living room or hospital room.”

KCNC reporter Suzanne McCarroll told me by email that hospital public relations staff are suggesting that families do pooled interviews, although stations have found some people who don’t ask for it.

McCarroll, a reporter for 30 years at the same station, doesn’t believe the approach hurts news coverage.

Let’s face it, the first interview they give is almost always the best. With each interview they give after that, their details and emotions get watered down. And really, when you think about it, should we be fighting over who gets to interview a guy with three bullets in his leg first? Is that where we should spend our effort? I don’t think so.

Despite the fact that key interviews for their stories are the same, each station seems to be able to add elements to make their stories unique.

On Tuesday, you may have seen the story of a baby born four days after his father was shot at the theater. The pool video was an interview with the new father’s brother, photos of the baby and mother, and a single image of the newborn.

Still, the stories turned out remarkably different as stations took the pool video and found other materials on their own to flesh the story out.

KUSA’s version

KCNC’s version, with a separate interview with the uncle provided by CBS News
KDVR’s version

KMGH’s version

You will notice the stations are careful about how they describe the interviews. They do not claim to have done the interviews themselves when they are pool feeds. “Rather than saying we talked to the family, we might say the family shared their story today,” Torres explained.

On Thursday, McCarroll covered the funeral of 23-year-old shooting victim Micayla Medek. The family initially invited KCNC to cover the funeral alone. But McCarroll said KCNC will rely on other stations to cover some memorial services in the coming days, so she asked the family if KCNC could feed the video to the other Denver stations. The family agreed.

“There is a better spirit of cooperation among stations now than there was after the shootings at Columbine High School,” McCarroll said. “I think that we have learned that when it can make it less traumatic on the families, it is the right thing to do.” Read more


ABC affiliate contradicts ABC News reporting on James Holmes’ behavior in jail

KMGH-TV | ABC News | Denver Post

KMGH-TV, the ABC affiliate in Denver, has taken the unusual step of publishing a story to contradict an ABC News report about accused theater shooter James Holmes.

ABC News’ Russell Goldman and Dan Harris reported, “Accused movie theater gunman James Holmes is spitting at jail officers so frequently that at one point he was made to wear a face guard, sources told ABC News.”

KMGH’s John Ferrugia reported in response, “According to knowledgeable sources, reports that Holmes was spitting at guards in jail are ‘simply false.’ ”

The New York Daily News appears to have been the first to report that Holmes had been spitting at guards, publishing a story on Saturday. KMGH reported on Monday, however, that Holmes was “eerily detached” in jail and his behavior hadn’t changed since he had been arrested.

ABC News published its story on Tuesday, which spurred KMGH to come back to the issue again on Wednesday. That story cited a Monday evening broadcast:

The story claiming Holmes was in a protective headgear was reported Tuesday night, despite a report by Ferrugia on Monday that, “contrary to what some media organizations have reported, our sources say in the past 48-hours Holmes has been calm and docile in jail, just like he was in court. There have been no outbursts at all as he is in isolation.”

ABC News ended up apologizing on Friday after investigative reporter Brian Ross speculated on the air that the shooter may have connections to the tea party, based on the fact that someone with the same name had posted something to a tea party website. It was a different man. Read more

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Jessica Ghawi scholarship raises more than $30,000 in a day

Yahoo News | San Antonio Express-News
A fund set up by the family of murdered sports journalist Jessica Ghawi hit its fundraising goal less than a day after it was announced Tuesday. The family hoped to raise $20,000; as I write this, the fund is at $30,155. Ghawi worked under the name Jessica Redfield and covered hockey as well as other sports. The fund “will be seed money for the scholarship to help send another upcoming young sports talent to study journalism,” the announcement reads.

Family members told the San Antonio Express-News’ Ana Ley they believed $10,000 was donated by the Los Angeles Kings. The funders page acknowledges an undisclosed gift amount from “AEG Sports (LA Kings/LA Galaxy)” as well as contributions from and Ghawi’s brother Jordan.

KSAT-TV in San Antonio, where Ghawi lived before she moved to the Denver area to further her sports career, has named her an honorary member of its sports department. In making the announcement, KSAT sports reporter Larry Ramirez became choked up talking about Ghawi.

A memorial service for Ghawi is planned for Saturday in San Antonio. Her boyfriend Jay Meloff told CBS the pair spoke just before she was killed. “I was kinda falling asleep, and she told me to sleep well, and that was five minutes before it all happened,” he told Jeff Glor. “And so that was the last thing she ever said.”

Previously: Sports journalist Jessica Ghawi dies in Colorado theater shooting | Public tributes reflect sports journalist Jessica Ghawi’s very public life || Also: Wall Street Journal editor apologizes for “ill-considered tweet” about shooting victims (Jim Romenesko) Read more


Denver Post covering Colorado shooting without a copy desk

Journal-isms | The Buttry Diary
In the 13 years since the massacres at Colorado’s Columbine High School and last week’s tragedy in Aurora, Colo., The Denver Post has lost dozens of newsroom staffers, Editor Greg Moore told readers of Richard Prince’s Journal-isms.

“I was not here for Columbine, but the other day we were looking at those Columbine papers and marveling at the talent that is no longer here,” Moore said. “My guess is the staff was around 240 or so in 1999. Today we have about 170.”

The Post is also covering one of the biggest breaking news stories in the country without copy editors. The paper announced in May that it was eliminating its copy desk, spreading that responsibility to reporters and editors throughout the newsroom. Moore said:

I believe we have been up to the challenge of handling this huge story. We have had some issues responding to the normal crises of grammatical copy and typos but nothing super embarrassing. I have never seen us more meticulous, something we have to be with the staff losses we have incurred. People have incredible capacity to rise to the challenge and we are. Everyone is using every skill they have to make our newspapers and our website the best they can be. And they are succeeding.

Read more

Reuters editor names theater-shooting ‘person of interest’ on Twitter

To understand why Reuters Deputy Social Media Editor Matthew Keys has earned such a wide Twitter audience, scan through the last 72 hours or so of his tweets. He’s been an invaluable process-journalism firehose about Aurora theater shooting suspect James Holmes, digging up photos of the alleged shooter’s car, stories about investigations into his background and his spurned application to a Colorado shooting range.

Presumably out of the same duty to transparency, Keys tweeted the name of an “associate” of Holmes who police had been looking for:

Read more

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Public tributes reflect sports journalist Jessica Ghawi’s very public life

Deadspin | KENS | CNN
Sports journalist Jessica Ghawi was one of 12 victims who were murdered in a mass shooting Friday in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater. Through social and traditional media, Ghawi, who worked under the name Jessica Redfield, lived very much in public, something reflected in the tributes to the 24-year-old.

Barry Petchesky at Deadspin reveals the touching reason she worked under Redfield — it was her grandmother’s maiden name. “She always wanted to be a journalist, never had the chance,” Ghawi said. Read more


If I were an 18-year-old aspiring journalist, I’d want to be like Morgan Jones

Welcome to national journalism, Morgan.

I’m among those who admire your instincts, initiative and energy and I’m reminded of how important and exciting being part of news coverage felt at your age — something that hasn’t faded much, actually, at my age. Though you just graduated from high school in June, one day ago you delivered a live timeline of breaking news that earned national attention from readers, editors and broadcast producers.

You “fast became the go-to source in the story” of the movie theater massacre near Denver during its earliest hours, says a post at BuzzFeed.

Huffington Post is more breathlessly effusive in its pickup of that July 20 interview:

“In an unbelievable display of citizen journalism, an 18-year-old Reddit user shared up-to-the-moment coverage of yesterday’s Aurora shooting through the night and into the morning hours. From his Denver, Colorado bedroom, the teen synthesized social media updates with posts from traditional news outlets to create a comprehensive timeline of the event in real time.”

Compiling a real-time transcript from a police scanner, social media and traditional media isn’t the same as composing a multi-source news report with context, interpretation and narrative flow, of course. But your speed, diligence and accuracy were journalistic. So was your sleep-sacrificing compulsion.

“The teen was the first to post a link about the incident on Reddit,” NPR notes, and as the night wore on, he added new information he could glean from the scanner, aggregating news coverage and correcting any old information. He began posting updates, pulling in new information, correcting old information and addressing questions from other users.”

Equally admirable is your pro-style approach to fixes.

“I don’t delete things and replace them with something else,” you told NPR’s “All Things Tech.” “I do a strike-through and put what [latest information] I have below it so it gives people an idea of how it’s changing, so it’s transparent.”

The immediate impact and next-day praise are a case study in the expanding role of “citizen journalism,” particularly at the start of a developing event. It’s no longer surprising to see eyewitness smartphone video as a prominent part of early coverage, and now your tireless, self-assigned work after midnight last Friday until dawn is a vivid example of newsrooms without borders between citizens and pros.

“I stayed up all night, and I am exhausted now,” you told BuzzFeed, “but it feels like I’m helping out people who need to know this stuff.” That last sentiment pulled many of us into journalism.

Well-done, Morgan, good luck at college this fall. And welcome to journalism.

Alan Stamm worked at The Detroit News from 1976-2003 and is now a marketing communication consultant in Birmingham, Michigan.

Related: How news spread of Colorado theater shooting | Sports journalist Jessica Ghawi dies in Aurora shooting | Reddit covers the Colorado movie theater shooting | ABC News apologizes for speculation that linked theater shooter James Holmes to Tea Party | Details about Colorado shooter too important to tweet incrementally | ‘Dark Night’: Front pages mourn for victims of Colorado theater shooting

How to: 7 tips for covering the Colorado theater shooting | How to approach sources on Twitter when covering tragedies like the Colorado shooting | 6 ways journalists can cope when covering traumatic stories like the Colorado theater shooting Read more

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