Osama bin Laden death

CNN: One wedding and a funeral


Newspaper designers describe front page techniques for capturing bin Laden’s death

We’ve looked at hundreds of newspaper front pages depicting Osama bin Laden’s death this week, and we’ve noticed several trends.

Many of the front pages used the same photo of bin Laden, the color red, and very short, bold headlines. The Citizens’ Voice, The Brownsville Herald and Express were among the papers that represented these trends.

Hoping to learn more about the stories behind their front pages, I talked with the folks who designed them and asked them about the choices they made.

Use of the same, dominant photo

Monday’s front page

Many of the front pages, including The Citizens’ Voices, used the same dominant photo of bin Laden looking off to the side.

When designing Monday’s front page, Copy Editor Tamara Dunn said there was no doubt that she would use that photo on the cover. Read more

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NYTer: It was strange to read my bin Laden obit

Columbia Journalism Review
Kate Zernike finished it in November of 2001. “In many ways, it was strange for me [to read it on Monday], because I was reading it as a regular reader. I did wonder, ‘Does this stand up to the test of time?’ …The lede was largely my lede, because I remember writing it.”

She tells Lauren Kirchner in a Q-and-A:

I have not had a single reader write to me and say, “Why did you waste all this time on him?” My friends who are readers have sort of impressed upon me the historic element of this, more than maybe I realized myself. And I’ve gotten a lot of reader feedback saying that it was great to have this historical background and just sort of understand again—because, again, we’ve stopped talking about bin Laden—so I think it was really important for people to be reminded of just why he came to loom so large over our country.

Read more

How the media have covered bin Laden’s death

Project for Excellence in Journalism
So far the coverage has defied the tendency seen in many major national news events to turn quickly partisan, according to Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. The mainstream media’s major themes: Trying to parse out the details leading up to and during the raid, and sorting through the national and international reaction to it. Pew examine more than 120,000 news stories, 100,000 blog posts, and 6.9 million posts on Twitter or Facebook and found that:

* The largest share of discussion on Facebook and Twitter, (19 percent) has involved people sharing jokes. The second largest theme (17 percent) involved the question of whether bin Laden was really dead.
* One quarter (25 percent) of the mainstream media coverage involved reconstructing the commando mission at bin Laden’s secret hiding place. Read more


What journalists were doing when they heard about bin Laden’s death

Gwen Ifill reports in the National Journal:
* Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times was watching “The King’s Speech” on pay per view at home.
* David Sanger, another Timesman, was in Brussels working on a NATO story.
* Tom Gjelten of NPR was on a late-night run to the drug store.
* James Kitfield of National Journal was in Houston hotel room with a glass of brandy, working on stories.
* Helene Cooper of the New York Times was at home watching a recording of the royal wedding. Read more

A photo taken by a local resident, shows the wreckage of a helicopter next to the wall of the compound where according to officials, Osama bin Laden wss shot and killed in a firefight with U.S. forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan on Monday, May 2, 2011. Bin Laden, the glowering mastermind behind the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks that killed thousands of Americans, was slain in his luxury hideout in Pakistan early Monday. (Mohammad Zubair/AP)

Why the man who tweeted Osama bin Laden raid is a citizen journalist

When I wrote earlier this week about how quickly people around the world learned that Sohaib Athar had “live tweeted” the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, I thought carefully before calling him a citizen journalist.

Now Dan Mitchell has given me the opportunity to explain my thinking. In a SF Weekly post headlined “No, Twitter hasn’t replaced CNN,” Mitchell writes, “In the wake of the assassination, new-media pundits are hailing the event as another victory for social media over traditional media.”

Referring to my description of Athar as a citizen journalist, Mitchell writes, “Because he wondered on Twitter, in real time, now he’s a ‘citizen journalist.’ … Wondering on Twitter why there are helicopters flying around your neighborhood isn’t journalism.”

True, it isn’t. Read more


Obama on bin Laden photo decision: ‘We don’t need to spike the football’

Romenesko Misc.
“60 Minutes” has released a partial transcript of its interview with President Obama, which airs on Sunday. “It is important for us to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head — are not floating around– as– an incitement to additional violence,” he says. “As a propaganda tool. You know, that’s not who we are. You know, we don’t trot out this stuff as trophies.” || Read New York Times’ story on the decision. Read more


Do we want a ‘narrative,’ or reliable facts about bin Laden’s death?

Something interesting has happened since news broke that Osama bin Laden had been shot and killed. We have already received different accounts from government officials about what happened during the American raid on the compound in Pakistan.

These accounts are being referred to as “narratives,” and some journalists are concerned with the implications and connotations of that word. NBC’s Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd tweeted that he found it “odd and a tad troubling” that the Department of Defense has used the word in such a way.

In a live chat, which you can replay below, I talked with Ben Montgomery, a narrative writer at Poynter’s St. Petersburg Times, about the use of the word narrative, and how it differs from a report. 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 May 1, 2011. (Jason Reed/Reuters)

Reuters, AP photojournalists describe staging of Obama photo

Editor’s note: On May 12, news broke that the White House had decided to stop its practice of re-enacting photos for still photographers. Our story on that decision is here. Below is Poynter.org’s original story on this issue.

Until Wednesday, the White House debated whether to release photos showing Osama bin Laden’s body. In theory, the photos would be proof to any doubters that the terrorist is dead. But not all photos can be believed — not even when they seem to show the president of the United States making a historic speech.

Reuters White House photographer Jason Reed describes how the president made his speech to a single TV camera, then immediately after finishing, he pretended to speak for the still cameras. Read more


What makes ‘Situation Room’ photo so compelling

Women’s Wear Daily
“As a moment of time captured, it’s very powerful,” says Bloomberg Businessweek creative director Richard Turley. “It’s quite a human picture isn’t it: The way Obama kind of tucked himself into the corner, the body language on everyone.” Newsweek photo director Scott Hall tells John Koblin: “What’s most interesting to me about this photo is what you’re not seeing. The mystery of what’s happening off camera is captured wholly in the expression on Hillary’s face.” || Associated Press: What exactly were they watching on that video screen? || More from Joel Achenbach.
A Reuters shooter on racing to the WH to record history Read more

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