Osama bin Laden death


Osama bin Laden was reading Bob Woodward? It’s not news to Woodward.

Journalist Bob Woodward's book, "Obama's Wars." (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Journalist Bob Woodward’s book, “Obama’s Wars.” (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

One of our most fabled journalists was not exactly surprised Wednesday with disclosure of declassified government documents that touched on the reading habits of Osama bin Laden.

It included word that at the time of the U.S. raid on his Pakistan compound in 2011, books in bin Laden’s bedroom included “Obama’s War” by Bob Woodward. (New York Times) It’s a chronicle of President Obama’s handling of the war in Afghanistan, which received some good reviews even from the inevitable skeptics of the legendary investigative reporter’s work.

“I heard [about this] years ago,” he said in a phone chat Wednesday. “Somebody in the White House or intel community told me they had found it at his bedside. Read more


Study: Celebrities played role in spreading news of bin Laden death

Georgia Institute of Technology | Poynter
A new research paper says celebrities played an important role in spreading the news of Osama bin Laden’s death one year ago tonight. Researchers tracked which accounts were mentioned in tweets about bin Laden and found that there were three distinct patterns. Mentions of “media people” spiked first, but they were soon outpaced by official media accounts. Celebrity mentions grew more slowly, but those figures became dominant as time went on and media mentions declined. “While media people and the mass media compete to be the first to report the news, celebrities use their social influence to help spread the news and stimulate discussions,” researchers conclude.

This graph shows mentions of three user types as news spread of bin Laden’s death on the night of May 1, 2011.
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Study: Twitter users convinced of bin Laden’s death before media, President confirmed it

How did people learn that Osama bin Laden had been killed a year ago? The story is simple: Keith Urbahn, an aide to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, “broke” the news on Twitter before any major news outlet reported it, more than an hour before President Barack Obama announced it:

Some people assumed the “reputable person” in Urbahn’s tweet was the former defense secretary himself. But Urbahn later said that a TV news producer, seeking an interview with Rumsfeld, told him that the U.S. may have killed bin Laden. 

In retrospect, Urbahn’s tweet looks less like an instance of breaking news and more like casual conversation. Read more

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WH, photographers agree to new plan for shooting presidential speeches

Washington Post
The agreement was hammered out quietly last week between the White House’s press office and the White House Correspondents’ Association, reports Paul Farhi.

News photographers will now be permitted to designate a single representative to act as a “pool” for the entire press corps. The photos taken by the pool representative will be made available to all news organizations. Reporters use a similar pool system for presidential events in which space is limited.

New York Times photographer Doug Mills, who negotiated on behalf of journalists, calls this “an excellent solution” because “we will have still photos taken during the actual address by a news photographer.” Kenny Irby, Poynter’s visual journalism faculty, said two weeks ago that the easiest option would be to move to a single-camera pool. Read more

In this undated image from video seized from the walled compound of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and released Saturday, May 7, 2011 by the U.S. Department of Defense a man, who the American government identified as Osama bin Laden, watches television, showing an image of U.S. President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/Department of Defense)

Television dominant source of news about Osama bin Laden death

While websites and social networking platforms continue to gain influence as news sources, several recent polls suggest traditional media still play an important role in disseminating information about important stories.

Three recent polls asked Americans how they first learned about the killing of Osama bin Laden earlier this month. Overwhelmingly, respondents said they heard about it on television.

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Staff are seen at work at President Barack Obama's 2012 re-election campaign headquarters during a media tour of the new facility Thursday, May 12, 2011, in Chicago. (M. Spencer Green/AP)

Horse race overtakes history in political coverage of Osama bin Laden death

President Obama had not yet officially announced the death of Osama bin Laden before bloggers and pundits began speculating about its impact on the 2012 election.

“The news that Osama bin Laden has been killed — on Obama’s watch — is most definitely a political game-changer,” NBC’s Mark Murray wrote on the network’s “First Read” blog at 11:23 p.m. Eastern time May 1. That was shortly after reporters learned of bin Laden’s death, but 12 minutes before the President began delivering his nationally televised address.

Throughout the early-morning hours after the speech, the online political debate roared into full swing.

The President “is going to be almost impossible to beat in 2012,” the Daily Beast’s Andrew Sullivan predicted at 12:21 a.m.

“If unemployment remains high and the recovery remains weak, Obama could absolutely lose in 2012,” countered Scott Lemieux at the American Prospect twenty-five minutes later. Read more

Photographers take pictures of U.S. President Barack Obama after he announced live on television the death of Osama bin Laden from the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., May 1, 2011. (Jason Reed/Reuters)

Photographers debate what should replace staged photo opps now that White House is ending the practice

Calling it a “bad idea,” the White House has decided that it will no longer re-enact speeches for still photographers, as it did the night President Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden. That re-enactment was the subject of a Poynter.org story that sparked industry conversation about the ethics of staging photos, particularly one of such a historic event.

Photographers take pictures of U.S. President Barack Obama after he announced live on television the death of Osama bin Laden from the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., May 1, 2011. (Jason Reed/Reuters)

On May 1, continuing a practice in place for decades, the White House barred still photographers from photographing the live presidential address because of the disruption the still cameras would cause. Read more


How AP covered ‘The Taking of Osama bin Laden’

Romenesko Misc.
AP senior managing editor Michael Oreskes says “the scene was like something from a Hollywood blockbuster.”

Two ace reporters huddle in a taxi cab, racing off to mine separate sources for details of this most extraordinary of stories. A cell phone rings. On the other end is yet another source, calling back with an exceptional detail — the name of the courier who inadvertently led the U.S. to the world’s most-wanted man. This is huge. But it’s not quite enough confirmation. So the reporters split up and call more sources. And they nail it. They head to a public Wi-Fi spot to file.

Oreskes says “for their outstanding journalism and helping the AP shine on this remarkable story,” Matt Apuzzo, Kim Dozier, Adam Goldman, Eileen Sullivan, Abdul Rehman Achakzai and Julie Pace win this week’s AP “Beat of the Week” award and its $500 prize. Read more

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AP editor: It’s our job to seek evidence taken in raid on bin Laden compound

The Atlantic Wire | National Press Photographers Association

The Associated Press has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the photographic and video evidence taken during the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, explaining that it would like to see the material and compare it with other things that the public is being told about the raid both by U.S. officials and officials in other countries. AP senior managing editor Michael Oreskes says:

We’re not deciding in advance to publish this material. We would like our journalists, who are working very hard, to see this material and then we’ll decide what’s publishable and what’s not publishable based on the possibly that it’s inflammatory.

In the week since the raid there’s been a whole series of story-lines about what happened in this raid.

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Steve Kroft explains why he broke interviewing rules when questioning Obama about bin Laden death for ’60 Minutes’

When Steve Kroft interviewed President Obama last week about the raid on Osama bin Laden’s headquarters in Pakistan, the “60 Minutes” veteran violated many of the guidelines that we teach about how to conduct an interview. And it worked.

Why? Kroft kept the questions short and constantly mixed up the types of questions he asked to alternately seek facts, emotion and insight.

Kroft told me that when he sat down with the President, he had, in his hands, a list of 62 questions that he might ask. “We wanted to do the interview in three sections; the raid and the planning, the Situation Room and Pakistan. I knew I was not going to get through all of the questions,” Kroft told me by phone on Monday. Read more

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