PRESS GEARS UP FOR McVEIGH EXECUTION

By: Joe Strupp

There Are Only So Many Ways To Tell It


Coverage of Timothy McVeigh’s May 16 execution will hardly be a
uniform process, according to editors in newsrooms nationwide who
plan to employ strikingly different approaches to its reporting.
While some newspapers plan an all-out assault on the Terre Haute,
Ind., federal prison where the Oklahoma City bombing mastermind
is scheduled to die, others plan to focus more on the victims of
the 1995 tragedy and their reaction.

The U.S. Bureau of Prisons has already issued more than 1,400
press credentials to grant access to media filing centers on the
prison grounds and will announce the 10 media witnesses on
execution day. The detailed and massive credentialing process,
which closed April 13, has been compared to that of a political
convention or inauguration.

At The Tribune-Star, Terre Haute’s hometown paper, Editor
Max Jones has assigned all 10 reporters to some aspect of the
execution, while also contemplating a special edition to come out
shortly after the 7 a.m. event. “My desk is flat-out exploding
these days,” he said of the preparations.

Editors at The Daily Oklahoman in Oklahoma City, however,
are seeking to give more attention to local victims. “We will
have quite a focus here,” said City Editor Don Mecoy, who is
sending just one reporter to Indiana. “We’re trying not to
overwhelm people.”

David Lindsey, national legal affairs editor of USA Today,
also plans to limit coverage of the McVeigh execution itself.
“The more emotional story and human story will be [in Oklahoma
City],” said Lindsey.

Most editors, meanwhile, said they want to make sure all aspects
are covered and not overplayed. “We’ll give full and textured
coverage to a story that has many parts,” said Mike Silverman,
managing editor for The Associated Press.

Mike Abramowitz, national editor of The Washington Post,
agreed. “The coverage can get a little too circular,” he said.
“In the end, there are only so many ways you can write about an
execution.”



Joe Strupp (jstrupp@editorandpublisher.com) is an associate editor for E&P.



Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher.

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