Friday, March 21, 2008

We reporters need to pay attention

On Wednesday this week, I wrote a story about some kids finding a loaded handgun magazine on the bus. Authorities haven't been able to find the gun so far, just the magazine, with about a dozen rounds in it.

It was a .40-caliber Sig Sauer handgun magazine, which is what the police chief told me when I talked to him. I had him spell the brand name to me because I wasn't familiar with it.

My story ran on the front page of Thursday's paper.

On Thursday night, KSL had a story about the incident. While it is not uncommon for us to write a story and them to report the same thing a day later, or vice versa, one thing jumped out to me about their story. It is in part where the police chief is describing the magazine.

This from KSL's Web site:
A loaded clip from a gun appeared on a school bus in Weber County. So, where's the gun?
The day after the clip was found, students at the junior high were searched and put through a metal detector. Police still haven't found the student who brought it in, or any sign of a gun, though some other weapons were discovered.

The magazine clip belongs to an expensive gun. Harrisville Police Chief Max Jackson said it goes with a "high-priced, top-dollar, six hour .40 caliber handgun."

As a general rule, a reporter should pay extra attention to things they don't understand or know well, such as the brand of a pistol. I am not showing the KSL reporter's name because I don't want to make fun of them personally, just reporters in general. Some times we get caught up in what we're doing too much to take a step back and make sure what we're writing isn't just what we hear, but what makes sense.

For those who are interested, here's a picture of an actual Sig Sauer pistol:


Curtis Gibby said...

From ABC 4:

"They noticed this six Sauer 40-calibre magazine wedged between the seat and the wall of the bus," said Jackson.

Curtis Gibby said...

By the way, Jordan, we did steal the story idea from your piece. Way to innovate for us!

Jordan said...

Glad I can help! In full honesty, I guess I should admit my worst mistake of the sort. I misspelled the name of a woman who died in a car wreck, and the woman actually worked at the Standard-Examiner. I felt bad for that one.