Media's Take On The Beltway Sniper Attacks

1791 words - 8 pages

A. Plan of Investigation
This investigation analyzes how the reports of the Beltway Sniper Attacks were given (newspaper or television, etc.) changed the public’s reaction the amount attention that was given to this event. To be able to analyze this, I will look at different newspaper reports that were published discussing the different ways that the media took to reporting about this event. The varying reasons for differing reports will be explored; along with the different ways these reports affected American citizens.
The two sources that have been selected for evaluation are “Cable's Focus on Sniper Helped the Authorities, but Also Drew Harsh Critics” by Felicity Barringer and Jim ...view middle of the document...

” The information was leaked and was often repeated wrong. Notes were also left at the crime scenes with one threatening children and demanding $10,000,000
• The snipers got the media to relay messages such as “We have caught the sniper like a duck in a noose.” to the public
o Reference to a Cherokee fable
• Muhammad and Malvo were found sleeping in their car at a rest stop
o A Bushmaster .223-caliber weapon and a bipod were found in the car
• Malvo testified that the point of these attacks were to kidnap kids so the government would pay them money and to also "set up a camp to train children how to terrorize cities"
• John Allen Muhammad was sentenced to execution in November 2004 and executed on November 20, 2009 in Jarrett, Virginia. In October 2003, Malvo was sentenced to six consecutive life sentences without parole.
• With Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone dying in a plane crash, it took some attention off of the case
• "I don't think I'm going to do something on the sniper case. The reason is, it's going to be so completely covered in the media."- Charles Spicer
• USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll this week, 57% of respondents said the media "have acted responsibly."
C. Evaluation of Sources
“Cable's Focus on Sniper Helped the Authorities, but Also Drew Harsh Critics” written by Felicity Barringer and Jim Rutenberg is a newspaper article published in the New York Times on October 25, 2002. This article is written about the way that cable television has exaggerated the Beltway Sniper attacks in order to get citizens reactions. The purpose of this article is to allow the audience to look into the different ways that the media can be perceived and the ways that that could hinder or help a case and choose for them which one they believe to be truer. With everything being on cable, there were more leads called in, but at the same time, most of those leads were useless called in by people who just wanted to be a part of the action. The article goes into details to allow readers to look at both how the media helped to catch the criminals but also slowed down their investigation. The value of this article is that it was written with such a close proximity to the shootings that the information was fresh on the writers’ minds. Also, with both sides/perspectives of the controversy given, it is harder for this article to be biased. At the same time though, since two people that are in the field of journalism/media write this, they may be biased towards the media helping out to find the criminals since they would want media coverage to be promoted. Other limitations of this article are that it is a secondary source, so this article comes from interpreted primary documents and other information that could make the article not as valuable to historians.
“Poll finds appetite for sniper coverage” written by Bruce Schwartz is a newspaper article published in the USA Today on October 23, 2002. It is written about how the coverage on the Beltway Sniper Attacks has...

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