On October 22, 2014, a lone gunman killed a Canadian Armed Forces soldier at Ottawa’s Parliament Hill. It is difficult to overemphasize the importance of the role of national media in the wake of a terrorist attack. The media are charged with the task of keeping citizens engaged while avoiding sensationalizing the truth.
During the Ottawa shooting on October 22, 2014, Canadian news networks delivered on this definition. Immediate coverage of the shootings was markedly devoid of unnecessary sensationalism, and, Canadian News Networks even received international praise for the ‘calm, collected’ manner in which they reported the shooting. The CBC’s Peter Mansbridge received special praise for his respectful coverage of the days’ events.
An article from a critical media website called ‘Press Progress’ compared the CBC’s coverage of the shootings with same day reporting from America’s CNN. While CBC came up with a fact based heading for the story, “Soldier Dies after Parliament Hill Attack, Gunman also shot dead”. CNN headlined its breaking news page with ‘TERRORIFIED CAPITAL’.
While Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper declared the event a “Terrorist Attack” on October 22nd, Canada’s largest newspapers still avoided falling prey to unfounded speculations over the gunman’s potential affiliations. In their special feature section on October 23, 2014, the Globe paid respects to the gunman’s victim, Corporal Nathan Cirillo, and included a special tribute to Sergeant – at – Arms, Kevin Vickers, who reacted and shot the gunman down.
In a time of severe distress, The CBC managed to deliver both respectful and informative coverage, and for that it is to be commended.