The shooting that took place at North Park School Elementary School in San Bernardino, CA, was covered by every major news outlet by the end of Monday night. However, this particular article stood out to me for an unsettling reason.
The story, “8-year-old student dies in San Bernardino school shooting” by Christopher Weber had a headline that immediately made me emotional and shocked. I had been following the shooting earlier that day on twitter, but this was the first time I had heard that a child had died due to their injuries at the attack. I chose to read this article as opposed to another article because of how instantly upsetting it is to read that an 8-year-old has passed away, and my first instinct was to find out more about the child.
Weber is not a member of the globe staff, he is an outside writer with the Associated Press. I thought that this was smart for the Boston Globe to use an outside reporter. In recent years the Globe has cut down their budget to focus on reporting news in Boston and Massachusetts, and using an outside reporter who is based in LA allows them to get better information published faster.
The article was well written and reported, but my main problem with it was that Weber barely mentioned the 8-year-old boy that had been killed. He used his name once, (Jonathan Martinez) in the nut graph and did not write about him again. Instead, the story repeated details about the attack that I had already heard of throughout the day, as well as some background information on the district.
I understand that at that point it would have been difficult to get a quote from the boy’s family or find any information on him, but the fact that the reporter used such a shocking title and then did not tell us anything more about the 8-year-old student that had died was off-putting to me. It brought up the question of if a reporter should use the most attention grabbing titles for their stories to get people to read them, even if it is slightly misleading. One could definitely make that argument, but during this emotional time, I was upset and felt misinformed.
Final Thoughts on the Boston Globe Review
Looking back, I feel that the most important factors in reporting are staying objective and finding people who will give you great interviews and quotes. Many of the stories that I read were well researched and reported, but because I felt that the journalist was using biased language, I felt like I could not take everything that they were staying at complete truth value. The articles that were written with much more objective and unbiased language stood out to me as seeming more mature and well thought out.
The emotion in reporting should not come from the journalist, but should come from the quotes that a journalist collects. There were some stories that I felt would have been extremely boring or dull if not for the incredible interviews and quotes that the reporters pulled. Using an emotional quote in an article is much more effective than allowing your own emotions to come through in the writing.