NEW YORK (AP) — In an era when anyone can go online and find video of extremist beheadings, police shootings and other carnage, major news organizations applied their own standards to coverage of this week’s killing of a TV news crew in Virginia and showed only carefully selected portions of the footage.
They were difficult newsroom decisions, informed by competitive pressures, questions of newsworthiness and taste, and an understanding that for all the talk about the great convergence of media, a fundamental difference still exists between TV and the Internet.
“We went back and forth on this — whether to run it, not run it, or just use frame grabs,” said Al Ortiz, CBS vice president of standards and practices. “It’s not a decision you make lightly. An argument was made that we were doing the gunman’s work for him. But the decision we came around to was that it was editorially important to show how methodical, planned and deliberate this was. That’s the only reason we used it.”
The killings of WDBJ reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were literally a made-for-television moment. They were shot to death on live TV by a gunman who also recorded the attack and posted his video on social media. The TV station’s footage and the gunman’s were watched online in full by countless numbers of people around the globe as news executives decided what to show.
Before the shooting was three hours old, CNN began showing WDBJ’s footage of Parker conducting an interview and then trying to scramble away as gunfire erupted. The network warned viewers of its graphic nature and promised not to air it more than once an hour. CNN did not air the gunman’s own video.
Some news organizations, like CBS and NBC, ran a portion of the WDBJ video but did not use audio of the shooting and screaming. ABC froze the video before the shooting began but aired audio of the attack. CBS showed part of the gunman’s footage but stopped it before the first shot, Ortiz said.
Fox News used no video or audio of the event during daytime hours but, after 6 p.m., used a combination of video before the attack, still photos and audio. NBC and MSNBC froze the video and audio before the attack, but a gunshot could be heard on its websites.
The differences in the way TV and the Internet handled the material are important, executives said: People online are making conscious choices about what to see, while TV viewers can be taken by surprise.
“You don’t know who’s in the room,” said former CBS News President Andrew Heyward, now a consultant to media companies. “You don’t know the ages of the people watching. So there’s always been a very high standard of restraint.”
The Associated Press provided to the public a version of the gunman’s video that froze when the shooting began, but continued with audio. For broadcast subscribers, the AP supplied complete version through a closed-circuit channel, allowing TV stations to edit it to their own standards, said Tom Kent, AP’s standards editor.
“The video was newsworthy and key to understanding the story,” he said.
Many journalists argue that their job is to be a pipeline of news to the public, not a filter. Marcy McGinnis, a former news executive at CBS and Al Jazeera America, said she wonders if the public reaction to events like the Connecticut school shooting would have been different if pictures had been more readily available.
“Is it good that nobody ever saw it, or is it bad that nobody ever saw it?” she said. “Would something more have been done if people had seen the carnage?”
But McGinnis said news organizations aren’t YouTube, and people expect professionals to weigh issues of taste along with the need to tell stories.
“I can see people arguing for showing more things on TV if it’s available everywhere else,” she said, adding: “I still don’t think I would show somebody getting shot or show the face of a dead person.”
Broadcasters also are constrained by government licensing of the airwaves, Heyward noted. Too many complaints from the public aren’t good. In fact, professional editing is a way for networks to distinguish themselves from online outlets, he said.
Meanwhile, a newspaper front page Thursday proved that still photography retains the capacity to shock.
The New York Daily News ran the headline “Executed on Live TV” with three pictures of Parker from the point of view of the gunman. One had a gun raised and pointed at her, the other showed the moment the gun went off, and the third illustrated her horrified face when she saw what was happening.
“I hate that I just saw NY Daily News cover,” tweeted Jeff Darlington, a reporter for the NFL Network. “What a repulsive decision. I went the whole day managing to avoid any image of it. Then that.”
Daily News spokeswoman Anne Muscarella said the decision wasn’t made lightly and noted the images were widely circulated online.
“We feel passionately about strengthening gun control, imploring politicians to improve mental health services and highlighting the extraordinary scale of daily gun violence,” she said. “That is why we published the images — to convey the true scale of what happened in Roanoke.”
Associated Press Television Writer Frazier Moore contributed to this report.
Follow David Bauder at twitter.com/dbauder. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/david-bauder
Take away game tickets for missing class. Hold back a bowl gift for being late. Maybe even dock a player his $15 per diem for skipping study hall.
For years, college football coaches have been coming up with creative ways within NCAA rules to punish players for relatively minor missteps — sometimes hitting them in the wallets.
These days those wallets are fuller than ever before, thanks to new NCAA rules that increased the value of an athletic scholarship by several thousand dollars to include a stipend for additional cost-of-attendance expenses. That does not mean coaches can start fining players for misdeeds like they do in the pros.
“All that’s covered (in cost of attendance) is the costs that the school says is needed to survive on campus,” said Ramogi Huma, executive director of National College Players Association, a student-athlete advocacy group. “This is not excess money.”
Not only could fining players be an NCAA violation, but it also makes college sports look like professional sports at a time when college leaders are trying to make the case that amateurism needs to be preserved.
Huma led a movement to unionize football players at Northwestern. It failed, but the National Labor Relations Board never did rule on whether the players were employees. College sports leaders insist they are not. Antitrust lawsuits against the NCAA make the case they are.
Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock quickly stamped out a potential problem Wednesday night in Blacksburg, Virginia, when he quickly ended a fine program Hokies’ coaches said they were considering.
Defensive coordinator Bud Foster talked about fines coming out of players’ cost-of-attendance money. Virginia Tech athletes are receiving an additional $3,280 (or $3,620 for out-of-state students) this year to cover expenses beyond tuition, room and board and fees.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch published a photo on Thursday of a video board at the Virginia Tech football facility that had a list of transgressions — missing class, missing study hall, dirty locker, unsportsmanlike behavior — with dollar amounts next to them ranging from $5 to $100.
Virginia Tech said no money had been forfeited under the proposed system.
“Now, I would also like to say this: I really admire Coach (Frank) Beamer, the behavior of our players, the accountability, the discipline, the clean program. I admire what he’s done,” Babcock told The Roanoke Times. “But I just think this is a new era and we all agreed this morning that we would stop this practice in total.”
Babcock said in the past Virginia Tech coaches had disciplined players by withholding game tickets or bowl gifts.
That’s not uncommon nor is it against the rules. Tickets and gifts are perks for being part of the team, not financial aid.
“I would basically hold ransom,” said former UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel, now an analyst for CBS. “I would keep things and if I got the behavior I wanted it would be returned to them.
“I would hold back bowl gifts until we got the academic work that we needed to get done.”
Neuheisel, who also coached at Washington and Colorado, said a player could be punished by not being allowed to drive to a not-so-far-away bowl game, hence taking away the player’s ability to be reimbursed for the mileage and make a couple of bucks in the process.
Former Arkansas and Mississippi coach Houston Nutt said making a player run gassers or stadium steps at 5 a.m. as punishment isn’t always enough to get his attention.
Nutt said he once took away a player’s travel per diem — about $15 — after the player missed several study halls.
“To me it was a good little learning point especially when his teammates opened up their envelope and got theirs and his first trek was straight to me,” said, who also works for CBS Sports. “‘Hey coach where’s my envelope?'”
Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville seemed to double-down on the Virginia Tech plan when he told ESPN that he would withhold cost-of-attendance funds if players violated team or athletic department rules.
“We are in no way, shape or form fining any of our student-athletes,” Cincinnati athletic director Mike Bohn said.
While NCAA rules prohibit schools from withholding scholarship funds based on athletic performance, a school can include in its scholarship agreement that funds can be revoked for violations of university, athletic department or team policies. The scholarship agreement athletes sign with Cincinnati spells that out. There is also a university appeals process for an athlete who faces the loss of a scholarship.
Cincinnati football players are receiving an additional $5,504 in scholarship money to cover cost of attendance and Tuberville wants it used to pay for student misdeeds such as parking tickets, late rented books and damaged door rooms.
“And now we’re trying to educate our student athletes,” said Maggie McKinley, associate athletic director who oversees compliance at Cincinnati, “because of that increase in their scholarships, they have more to lose.”
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP
There is no question that the most talked-about topic heading into the U.S. Open is Serena Williams’ Grand Slam bid. Even if she does dominate the conversation, a certain “Big Four” of men’s tennis will provide plenty to discuss, too, as usual.
No. 1-seeded Novak Djokovic, for example, has been nearly as dominant as Williams in 2015. He won the Australian Open, was the runner-up at the French Open, then won Wimbledon, part of a 56-5 season that includes six titles and 10 consecutive appearances in tournament finals.
Given his excellence on hard courts, it’s hard to believe he’s earned the trophy only once at Flushing Meadows.
Five-time U.S. Open winner Roger Federer is 34, hasn’t won a Grand Slam championship in more than three years — and yet the No. 2-seeded Swiss star might just be as much of a threat as anyone to be in Arthur Ashe Stadium on the second Sunday. He made it all the way to the final at Wimbledon before losing to Djokovic, then beat the Serb for the hard-court Cincinnati Masters title this month.
“Still not very happy with my form and with my game,” Djokovic said after that loss to Federer, “but I have a week to work on it.”
No. 3 Andy Murray also defeated Djokovic in a hard-court final in August, at Montreal, and has made it to two semifinals and one final at this year’s majors. Like Djokovic and Federer, he is a past U.S. Open champion.
Rafael Nadal is worth keeping an eye on for the simple reason that no one quite knows how well he’ll play. He hardly has performed up to the standards that earned 14 Grand Slam titles, including two at the U.S. Open, and is seeded only No. 8. Nadal faces what could be a truly tough test in his opening match against 18-year-old Borna Coric. Get past that, then win three more matches, and Nadal could face Djokovic in the quarterfinals.
Here are other things to watch at the U.S. Open, which begins Monday in New York:
Maria Sharapova is a five-time major champion, including at the 2006 U.S. Open, but she’s hardly match-ready. She hasn’t competed since her semifinal loss to Williams at Wimbledon in July, sidelined since by an injured right leg. “You always have to believe in the ability to go through the little things that you might have,” Sharapova said. “There’s no athlete who’s ever 100 percent healthy.”
KYRGIOS AND WAWRINKA
Murray’s first-round opponent is Nick Kyrgios, a 20-year-old Australian who has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons recently. During a match in August, a courtside microphone picked up Kyrgios telling his opponent, two-time major champion Stan Wawrinka, that another Australian player had slept with Wawrinka’s girlfriend. Kyrgios was fined by the ATP — and is on probation for the next six months, with an additional fine and a 28-day suspension threatened. Both Kyrgios and Wawrinka will be dealing with that episode’s fallout.
FEDERER’S NEW RETURN
Federer showed off a new, net-rushing, half-volley return in Cincinnati, so it will be interesting to see how much he uses that at the U.S. Open. “I’ll always mix it up,” he said, “and make it, I guess, uncomfortable for my opponent.”
Mardy Fish, a 32-year-old American once ranked in the top 10, will be playing the final tournament of his career after dealing with anxiety disorder, which forced him to withdraw from the 2012 U.S. Open. His first-round opponent is 102nd-ranked Marco Cecchinato of Italy, who has never played a Grand Slam match and is 0-6 in tour-level matches.
RAISING THE ROOF
Fans still have to sit out rain delays at Arthur Ashe Stadium for one more year, but they’ll get a break from the sun. The framework to support a retractable roof has been installed above the tournament’s main court, providing shade for part of the upper deck, which used to bake on hot days. The fully operational roof is scheduled to be in place for the 2016 U.S. Open. Four new video screens also have been added at Ashe, replacing the previous two.
AP Sports Writer Rachel Cohen in New York contributed to this report.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Visiting residents on tidy porch stoops and sampling the fried chicken at a corner restaurant, President Barack Obama held out the people of New Orleans on Thursday as an extraordinary example of renewal and resilience 10 years after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
“There’s something in you guys that is just irrepressible,” Obama told hundreds of residents assembled at a bustling new community center in an area of the Lower 9th Ward that was once under 17 feet of water. “The people of New Orleans didn’t just inspire me, you inspired all of America.”
He held out the city’s comeback as a metaphor for what’s happening all across a nation that has moved from economic crisis to higher ground.
“Look at what’s happened here,” he declared, speaking of a transformed American city that was once “dark and underwater.”
Still, Obama acknowledged that much remains to be done. And after walking door to door in the historic Treme section of a city reborn from tragedy, he cautioned that “just because the housing is nice doesn’t mean our job is done.”
Areas of the city still suffer from high poverty, he said, and young people still take the wrong path.
There is more to be done to confront “structural inequities that existed long before the storm happened,” he added.
In his remarks at the community center, Obama blended the same themes of resilience and renewal that he drew from encounters with the sturdy residents he met along Magic Street and at other locations.
Leah Chase, the 92-year-old proprietor of Dooky Chase’s Restaurant, was one of those to chat with Obama. She pronounced herself a fan of the man, saying he’d handled “a rough road.”
Chase — who’s known as the “Queen of Creole Cuisine” — said, “That’s all you have to do: handle what’s handed to you,” voicing what could be a credo for the city.
Obama was clearly energized by his visits, at one point breaking into a song from “The Jeffersons” sitcom after meeting a young woman who calls herself “Ouisie.” He stopped for fried chicken at Willie Mae’s Scotch House, and pronounced the resulting grease stain on his suit a good indication that he’d enjoyed his stay in the city.
He held out the community center as “an example of what is possible when, in the face of tragedy and in the face of hardship, good people come together to lend a hand and, brick by brick, block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, you build a better future.”
“And that more than any other reason is why I’ve come back here today,” he said.
Obama was a new U.S. senator when Katrina’s powerful winds and driving rain bore down on Louisiana on Aug. 29, 2005. The storm caused major damage to the Gulf Coast from Texas to central Florida while powering a storm surge that breached the system of levees meant to protect New Orleans from flooding.
Nearly 2,000 people died, most in New Orleans. Video of residents seeking refuge on rooftops, inside the Superdome and at the convention center dominated news coverage as Katrina came to symbolize government failure at every level.
In his speech, Obama said Katrina helped expose inequalities that long plagued New Orleans and left too many people, especially minorities, without good jobs, affordable health care or decent housing and too many kids growing up in the midst of violent crime and attending inefficient schools.
The setting of his address at the community center spoke to the stark contrasts that remain. It sits near nicely renovated homes but also next to a boarded-up wooden house. The area is filled with vacant lots where houses used to stand, so overgrown that local residents sometimes refer to it as the wilderness and worry about snakes hiding in the grass.
Colette Pichon Battle, executive director of Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy, cautioned against slapping too happy a face on New Orleans, saying “rebuilding since the storm favors privileged private enterprise and this illusion of recovery is not progress.”
City residents, too, spoke of uneven recovery.
“I think we have a long way to go,” said Lisa Ross, 52, an appraiser. She said areas frequented by tourists have recovered tremendously but many neighborhoods have struggled.
Harold Washington, 54, a military retiree studying at Tulane, said the city is “better than it was.” But he was sad that children are now bused all over town rather than attending neighborhood schools.
Obama spoke hopefully of coming back to New Orleans after his presidency — when he can go to Mardi Gras and sample other delights.
“Right now,” he said, “I just go to meetings.”
Benac reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Rebecca Santana and Kevin McGill in New Orleans and Melinda Deslatte in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, contributed to this report.
Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap and Nancy Benac at http://twitter.com/nbenac
NEW YORK (AP) — Sprint is offering DirecTV customers one free year of cellphone service in a bold move aimed at the satellite TV company’s new owner, AT&T.
AT&T, which bought DirecTV for $48.5 billion in July, has been promoting a bundle that knocks $10 a month off a combined bill for video and wireless phone service. For a single line, the value of Sprint’s promotion is about $50 a month. It’s Sprint’s way of offering DirecTV customers a bundle without actually owning a video company.
Sprint, which is in the midst of a turnaround effort, has been making a range of promotional offers to lure customers. But so far, the Overland Park, Kansas, company hasn’t been as successful as T-Mobile, which went through its own turnaround.
T-Mobile is now the No. 3 wireless carrier in the U.S. after surpassing Sprint this year. In the April-June quarter, Sprint lost 12,000 customers, while T-Mobile gained 760,000, in “postpaid” phone plans, the ones offered to customers with good credit. But Sprint says it’s been reducing the size of its quarterly losses in customers and even saw gains in the months of May, June and July.
Craig Moffett, a senior analyst at MoffettNathanson, said the latest promotion is bold, but reckless.
“Sprint is already losing money and is burning through its remaining cash at an incredible rate,” he said. “Offering free service for a year will only make a bad situation worse.”
The free service will cost Sprint $600 per line, plus any charges to pay off rivals’ contract-termination fees or to finish off payments under monthly installment plans.
But Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics, said the costs are justified as investments for new customers.
“When you’re No. 4, you can’t afford to play it safe,” he said.
Dallas-based AT&T Inc. has been using the DirecTV service as a way to package wireless access and entertainment. Sprint Corp., which doesn’t have the entertainment component, isn’t willing to cede those customers to AT&T.
The latest promotion shows how aggressive phone companies have become as they try to lure customers from each other, given that most Americans now have cellphones.
Sprint’s offer is good for up to five lines on a single account, with each getting 2 gigabytes of data each month and unlimited calls and texts. It begins Friday and runs through Sept. 30. DirecTV customers must show some proof, like a DirecTV bill from the past 60 days, when signing up. But people can still sign up for DirecTV now to get the Sprint offer.
AT&T described Sprint’s offer as an act of desperation.
“This ranks right up there with a desperate Hail Mary pass to a petite defensive lineman,” the company said in a statement. “With Sprint’s network and the many asterisks on this deal, we’re feeling good about our offers.”
Sprint’s network isn’t as extensive as Verizon’s or AT&T’s, particularly in rural areas, and a free year of service isn’t good if it won’t work where you need it.
There are other conditions:
— Existing Sprint customers must add a new line of service to qualify. And both new and existing customers must buy or lease a new phone through Sprint; they cannot use one they already own.
— Customers must pay a one-time activation fee of $36, plus some monthly taxes and surcharges. Some taxes and surcharges are based on the number of lines rather than the cost of the plan, so customers wouldn’t save anything by paying nothing for service. But similar taxes and surcharges would apply at AT&T.
— The free offer is only good for a year, but phones typically take two years to pay off. For the second year, customers would pay $50 a month for a single line to $180 for five lines. That’s comparable to current rates.
— There’s no option for data beyond 2 gigabytes without paying higher fees for exceeding the cap — 1.5 cents per megabyte, or $15 per gigabyte. And these aren’t shared plans, so overage fees apply even if family members are below the cap. That said, 2 gigabytes is plenty for most people, unless they stream video.
BEIJING (AP) — Only when the running stopped and the picture-taking began did Usain Bolt finally meet his match.
Bolt blew past Justin Gatlin and everyone else Thursday night in the 200 meters to win his 10th career gold medal at the world championships.
What finally upended the 6-foot-5 Jamaican was a multitasking cameraman riding a two-wheeled scooter while videotaping Bolt’s victory lap. The scooter ran over the outcropping of a metal railing bolted to the edge of the track and bobbled off course — then slammed into the back of the fastest two legs on the planet.
Bolt’s legs came out from under him and he went down hard and landed on his backside. Then, smooth as silk, he somersaulted backward onto his feet, jogged a few steps, and reached down to make sure his left leg was OK.
He was no worse for wear — reporting just a few scrapes — but figured he’d try to make the evening at least a little more interesting.
“The rumor I’m trying to start right now is that Justin Gatlin paid him off,” Bolt said, while sitting next to Gatlin in the medalists’ news conference.
Gatlin’s response: “I want my money back. He didn’t complete the job.”
Indeed, it may take more than just a motivated opponent to finish off Bolt, who now has five gold medals at the Bird’s Nest, including the three he took at the 2008 Beijing Olympics when he set world records in the 100, 200 and the 400 relay.
The split-second scare with the scooter provided what Bolt’s season-best 19.55 seconds on the track did not.
This was billed as the second round of the Bolt vs. Gatlin series that produced the champion’s grittiest win four nights earlier. Bolt’s 0.01-second victory in the 100 came despite a year’s worth of injuries and off-form running that continued all the way through the semifinals.
Like most sequels, Part II didn’t live up to the original.
Running out of Lane 6, Bolt got off to a good start and worked smoothly into the curve, making up the lag to the runners to his outside and gathering steam as he headed into the turn. Leading at the halfway point, he opened a three-body-length lead over Gatlin early in the stretch, and the last 50 meters were simply for showing off.
Bolt coasted in and still won by 0.19 seconds. The winner used his thumbs to point at himself as he crossed the finish line and flashed his index finger: He’s No. 1 — just in case anyone had any doubts.
“What I really celebrated was, Justin Gatlin said earlier in the week that he was going to bring out something special for the 200 meters,” Bolt said. “I was like, ‘You don’t talk about my 200 meters like that.'”
Gatlin came into world championships dominating the sprints while Bolt was stuck on the sideline. The American was a favorite in the 100 meters, and Bolt took umbrage to the idea that Gatlin’s stumble over the last 15 meters gave that race away.
“Disrespectful,” Bolt called that notion. “I came out here and got it done.”
Once the 200-meter heats began, Bolt started getting stronger and Gatlin, by his own admission, started feeling tired.
“I’ve beaten him once before, and I hope to do it again,” Gatlin said about a 0.01-second victory at a meet in Rome in 2013. “He’s such a showman. You’ve got to give it to the guy for staying at the level he stays at. That’s hard to do.”
Gatlin’s silver added to gold medals won by two Americans — Christian Taylor in the triple jump and Allyson Felix in the 400. Anita Wlodarczyk of Poland won the women’s hammer throw with a championship-record toss of 80.85 meters (265 feet, 3 inches).
When Felix crossed the line, she tied Bolt for the most gold medals at the world championships with nine. That lasted all of about 10 minutes — until Bolt took No. 10 in the night’s final race.
Both sprinters are pointing toward Rio de Janeiro, where the Olympics are only 343 days away.
Something to think about: Bolt guessed if he’d pushed hard through the line Thursday night, he could have finished in the low 19.3s. He first got there at the 2008 Olympics, where he ran 19.30 to break Michael Johnson’s 12-year-old world record. Bolt has since improved that to 19.19.
“But one of my goals is to run under 19 seconds,” he said. “So if I want to run that, I have to really push myself next season.”
For the short term, his goal is to grab another gold in the 400 relay on Saturday — then get out of Beijing unscathed.
Not always as easy as it may seem.
After Bolt leaped up from his scary fall, he jogged back to the scooter driver to make sure he, too, was OK.
“I think he got the worst of it,” Bolt said.
When on the track with Bolt, most people do.