Breaking News out of Washington Navy Yard

Breaking news is key in the realm of journalism.  At times, it can be a virtual rat race-all news sources want to be the first to publish information on breaking stories. Although breaking news is a crucial aspect of journalism, it can also be very controversial.  When the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing occurred, the media was so fixated on publishing information first, that they neglected to seek the truth.  During the very beginning of the tragic bombing, news sources falsely identified the bomber; thus, leaving the real bomber on the run and an innocent young man in hiding.  Though certain media sources may be fast, they may not always be reliable.

On September 16 a gunman- now identified as former Navy reservist, Aaron Alexis – opened fire on the U.S. Navy Yard in southeast Washington.  According to a recent update from the NY Times, Alexis has killed at least 12 people and there are two other armed men on the loose.

The NY Times and Wall Street Journal published an article regarding this breaking news on Monday.  Both articles; however, have greatly been altered since their publication. WSJ writers Devlin Barrett, Dion Nissenbaum and Rebecca Ballhaus published, “Ex-Sailor’s Rampage Leaves Dozen Dead, Stuns Capital.”  NY Times writers Michael D. Shear and Michael S. Schmidt published, “Shooting Reported at Washington Navy Yard.”

The WSJ writers introduction stated: “WASHINGTON—A gunman opened fire at the U.S. Navy Yard in southeast Washington Monday morning, killing more than one person and injuring at least nine others, police and military officials said.”

I thoroughly enjoyed this introduction because it effectively provides the whole package: the who, what, when, and where.  The writers also make sure to credit their sources: police and military officials.  By adding that simple detail it makes the work more credible and secure for both the writers and the audience.  The only part I was not keen on is, “killing more than one person,” because that statement seems inconclusive.  I think it would have worked better if the writer simply deleted ‘more than.’

The NY Times writers introduction stated: “WASHINGTON — A gunman was dead and the police were potentially looking for two other armed individuals after a shooting Monday morning that left multiple people dead and injured at a naval office building not far from Capitol Hill and the White House, according to law enforcement officials.”

This introduction is very vague and messy.  I feel as though adding ‘Capitol Hill and The White House’ sensationalizes the piece.  This introduction leaves me confused; I don’t care to read the rest of this particular article with an introduction like this.  It does, however; provide more information than the previous article by including that the gunman is dead and that there are still two suspects on the run.

The NY Times stated, “Officials said one of the two potential gunmen they were looking for was a white man wearing a tan khaki Navy uniform and carrying a handgun. The other was a black man of about 50 years old who was believed to be carrying a “long gun,” police officials said.”  The WSJ stated, “Police identified the suspect as a black male, about 6 feet tall and 170 pounds, dressed in a black shirt and hat.”  I like that neither article jumps to the conclusion that the gunman (Alexis) was affiliated with the Navy nor do they proceed to mention that the other two gunmen were Alexis’s accomplishes.  I enjoyed the NY Times description because it is much more informative and vivid than the WSJ article.


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