Newtown Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting

Hollywood to journalism: Delete, delete, delete

Good morning. My name is Kristen Hare and I’ll be driving this thing for awhile. Here are 10 media stories.

  1. Hollywood is concerned about the ethics and morals of journalism

    Sony's lawyer sent a letter to news organizations demanding that the documents stolen from the company in the recent hack be "avoided, and destroyed." (The New York Times) | Aaron Sorkin totally agrees. (The New York Times.) | Dan Kennedy does not. "Dear Sony: Stealing information is a crime. Receiving stolen information and publishing it is protected by the First Amendment." (@dankennedy_nu) | RELATED: Here's a pretty good explainer if you're not sure how we got to the place where the creator of a show about a fictional newsroom is doling out advice to real ones.

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Connecticut School Shooting Photo Gallery

Should journalists stay away from Newtown this weekend?

According to The Washington Post, a long list of respected journalism organizations including ABC News, CNN, CBS News, Fox News, NBC News, NPR, The New York Times, USA Today and the Post itself say they plan to stay away from Newtown, Conn., Saturday, the first anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. WFSB-TV in Hartford announced a few weeks ago that it would not be in Newtown Saturday barring an unforeseen event.

It is the second strong show of restraint in a month. Barely anybody aired the 9-1-1 calls from the schools that officials released.

The reasons to stay away Saturday are the same reasons not to air the tapes. There isn’t enough news there to justify invading the townpeoples’ privacy. There are no public memorials or ceremonies scheduled for Saturday. Read more


Newtown’s media blackout forces journalists to do their jobs

The one-year anniversary of a tragic event is a significant moment. But for journalists, such moments too often become opportunities for emotional exploitation rather than real journalism.

The citizens of Newtown, Conn., and the families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School victims have drawn a hard boundary around their homes. No media, they’ve said to the outside world. Don’t talk to the media, they’ve said to the 28,000 people who live in the community.

In doing so, they’ve deprived newsrooms of the easy visuals and rote storytelling that have sometimes substituted for meaningful journalism. And that’s good: It forces journalists to do the hard work they should be doing on the first anniversary of the mass shooting that killed 20 first-graders and six adults.

In a way, it’s a gift to the audience everywhere that Newtown is spurning public events. Read more

Anne Alzapiedi

Whether to publish Newtown 911 tapes: A good question but not the best one

Even before Newtown, Conn., released recordings Wednesday of 911 calls made during last year’s mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, news organizations were wringing their hands admirably. MSNBC decided it would not broadcast them. As did NBC, whose president, Deborah Turness, told The New York Times “I listened to the tapes. I can’t see any editorial imperative.” Read more

A bus drives past a sign reading Welcome to Sandy Hook, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, in Newtown, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

TV station pledges to stay out of Newtown on shooting anniversary

WSFB-TV | The New York Times | Mediaite | CNN | Associated Press

On December 14, Hartford’s WFSB-TV will not be in Newtown, Conn.

“As we approach the somber anniversary of the mass shooting inside Sandy Hook Elementary School, Channel 3 Eyewitness News has made the decision to stay out of Newtown that day out of respect for the community,” the station announced on its website Tuesday.

A Newtown First Selectman asked media to stay away and give the town the chance to be together without an audience, WFSB reports.

“As a result of the request, Channel 3 Eyewitness News has made a promise to keep our crews away from Newtown, barring any unexpected event, to give people in the community time to be with each other to reflect on the events of that day.”

Attorneys for Newtown released recordings of 911 calls during the Newtown shooting Wednesday. Read more


Newtown 911 calls will be released today

The Hartford Courant | The Christian Science Monitor | The Washington Post | RTDNA

A law firm that represents Newtown, Conn., will on Wednesday release 911 calls from last year’s Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Connecticut State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky III said Monday he wouldn’t fight a decision by Superior Court Judge Eliot Prescott to release the documents. Read more

A report on the Sandy Hook shooting names gunman Adam Lanza once and none of the children who were shot. (AP Photo/Newtown Bee, Shannon Hicks, File)

Sandy Hook report names shooter only once, won’t name children

State of Connecticut | Associated Press

A report on last year’s mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School names Adam Lanza in its body text only once — “Throughout the remainder of this report Adam Lanza will be referred to as ‘the shooter,’” a footnote reads.

The report’s author, Connecticut State’s Attorney Stephen J. Sedensky III, also says the report “will not list the names of the twenty children killed in Sandy Hook Elementary School, nor will it recite 911 calls made from within the school on that morning or describe information provided by witnesses who were in the classrooms or heard what was occurring in the classrooms.” Read more

Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 8.48.50 AM

How The Huffington Post is mapping news reports of gun-related deaths

The Huffington Post has compiled and mapped news reports of gun-related homicides and accidental deaths in the U.S. since the school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

For 98 days, a team of Huffington Post researchers scanned news reports from around the country and added them to a spreadsheet to be sorted by date, city and state. The maps were part of Jason Cherkis’ series about gun violence in America.

Cherkis writes, “In the first week after the Newtown, Conn., massacre on Dec. 14, more than 100 people in the U.S. were killed by guns. In the first seven weeks, that number had risen to at least 1,285 gunshot killings and accidental deaths. A little more than three months after Newtown, there have been 2,244.”

The resulting interactive map, “Mapping the Dead, Gun Deaths Since Sandy Hook,” is a breathtaking display of where 2,244 people died in America. Read more


AP stylebook adds entry on mental illness

AP Stylebook | NAB
The Associated Press has introduced guidance on how to use information about mental illness in coverage. “Do not describe an individual as mentally ill unless it is clearly pertinent to a story and the diagnosis is properly sourced,” the new Stylebook entry begins.

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary that left 20 children and 7 adults dead, there was much speculation about the mental health of shooter Adam Lanza.

By email, AP spokesperson Paul Colford acknowledged that shooting was a factor.

“Newtown was certainly among the reasons we considered this carefully, as well as the run of other mass shootings where the state of the shooter was an issue. Editors heard from and sounded out mental health experts and welcomed their input,” he said. Read more


Programmers explain how to turn data into journalism & why that matters

By now you’ve heard about how The Journal News of Westchester County, N.Y., published the names and addresses of thousands of local gun permit holders.

And you’ve heard that many gun owners felt The Journal News was either insulting their character (by associating law-abiding gun owners with coverage of a mass school shooting) or invading their privacy (by publishing their names and home addresses). Some outraged critics retaliated by publishing personal information of journalists at the paper, threatening staff members and mailing envelopes of white powder to the newsroom.

We can all agree that sort of violent retaliation went too far. But there’s less agreement about whether the paper erred when it published the information in the first place.

Some of my Poynter colleagues have said yes, it was handled poorly. Read more

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