Reflecting on Coverage of Bin Laden’s Death

The St. Petersburg Times displayed great journalistic judgment with its coverage of Osama bin Laden’s death. To start off, the bold headline titled “DEAD” may appear excessive, but it is relatively safe compared with other publications. Some tabloids exaggerate their headlines by making outlandish remarks such as “BURN IN HELL” or “WE GOT THE BASTARD.” The Times used a simple yet effective headline accompanied by a subhead containing accurate information about the death’s location and the status of bin Laden’s remains. Bin Laden is shown in a portrait-like photograph that covers a good portion of the page, but there are no complimentary offensive graphics or designs (see The Brownsville Herald). In terms of appearance, the Times is appropriate behind its decisions.

The front page contains an article from the Washington Post. It is not surprising that the Times, a reputable publication that has received Pulitzer Prizes, is sharing content with another credible newspaper such as the Post. The following pages contain more articles that give perspective on the death. The front page also indicates that more coverage is featured on its website, and this shows how newspapers are emphasizing online content.

As for bad journalistic judgment, the New York Post handled its coverage on the front page in a distasteful manner. Firstly, the headline is excessive and contains inappropriate language. Although it is widely known that the Post is a tabloid that does not adhere to many good journalistic qualities, using the word “bastard” further lowers its reputation. Although the next eight pages provide more information, it would not be surprising if the articles lack in-depth context that informs readers.

One aspect to consider is audience. When the Post publishes a headline that reads “Vengeance at last!,” what message does that send to New Yorkers? It is highly likely that some of the Post’s readership have been affected by the events of September 11, 2001. Does a single terrorist’s death make up for the loss of a loved one? Surely, there were those who felt excited about bin Laden’s death. However, it is right to give consideration to those who were directly and indirectly impacted by the attacks or a loss. The Post showed a lack of sensitivity in this case.

This entry was published on April 30, 2012 at 7:50 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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