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Contrasting Coverage


When a bomb went off in a Woodburn bank in 2008, it killed two police officers, but didn’t catch much media attention outside Oregon. Most national media outlets just ran abbreviated stories supplied by wire services. But when a young man was arrested for allegedly attempting to set off a bomb in Pioneer Square late last month (and didn’t kill, or even hurt, anyone), it made the front page of the Sunday New York Times.

Though the Woodburn bombing took place two years ago, the two men accused of setting it off — father and son Bruce and Joshua Turnidge — were recently convicted and the sentencing phase of their trial is still ongoing. As a result, both incidents are in the news at the same time. A reporter for The Portland Mercury pointed out in an article earlier this month that most people reporting on the Turnidges have not used the word “terrorism” at all, a word that has been all over the coverage of Mohamud’s arrest. Some experts argue that there are very specific legal reasons why the word applies in one case and not the other. Others say it’s impossible to ignore the differences in race, religion and ideology when it comes to the accused men in these cases.

What differences do you see in the coverage of these two cases? What difference does it make to you?

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