As the dust settles from the Beltway sniper media frenzy, press coverage of the incident becomes questioned.
While authorities worked tirelessly to capture a killer, the media scrambled to put an identity on the faceless terror.
In the race to become the network or station with the breaking story, reporters trampled on accuracy.
The amount of information released pertaining to the sniper heightened a sense of fear within the Washington area. It also stigmatized white vans.
At the initial arrest of two men in Richmond, Va., who happened to be in a white van, media coverage briefly quelled the fears of a nation.
While pouncing on these two citizens, worries about the war on terrorism were whisked away in the press whirlwind.
These issues were still important and worthy of press coverage, but the media had lost sight of its priorities and those stories were lurking in media shadows, relegated to the ticker on the bottom of television screens.
Viewers knew that one of the suspects was olive-skinned and the other was born in Mexico.
By only releasing this information to the public, the press vilified all men who remotely fit this description.
Had the faces of these men been broadcast, they would have been marred for life. They were in fact arrested on unrelated charges.
The media has a responsibility to inform and to inform accurately, but it also must be careful with that information.
Journalism is a profession of perfection. When the media begin to become sloppy, its purpose falters.
-Rahkia Nance for the Editorial Board