police shootings
In this video still from an RT America tweet, protesters with the Black Lives Matter movement march Thursday on New York City's 5th Avenue to protest recent police shootings that have left two black men dead in as many days. (Screenshot)

(Editor’s Note: Just before 9 p.m. Thursday, 12 Dallas police officers and other citizens were shot during a rally being held in response to the police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota discussed below.

This post originated Thursday to examine media coverage on the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, and its contents are at least tangentially related to the Dallas tragedy that followed.

By Friday morning, five Dallas officers had died. For immediate information, consider following the Dallas Police Department Twitter account.)

About 35 minutes after midnight Tuesday, a police officer shot and killed 37-year-old Alton Sterling in the parking lot of a food mart in Baton Rouge, La. The very next evening in Minnesota, a St. Anthony police officer shot 32-year-old Philando Castile in the Saint Paul suburb of Falcon Heights. Castile died from those wounds shortly after arriving at a local hospital.

Both shootings reflect the all-too-frequent occurrence of black suspects being killed at the hands of police. Both shootings also highlight the growing importance of video footage in determining the facts of each incident.

But both cases differ with regard to the coverage each generated. In the Sterling case, the news arc went something like this: bystander uploads footage of cops detaining and shooting a black man, video sparks outrage and protest, celebrities speak out against Baton Rouge shooting, the investigation is handed over to the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In Castile’s case, the news arc was different: police shooting of black man livestreamed to Facebook, Minnesota shooting draws comparisons to Baton Rouge shooting, outrage spreads amid protests.

While the proper investigations of each case will spin more slowly than the public can scroll its social media feeds, accuracy of information will be paramount.

The following roundup of links intends to illustrate a timeline of headlines regarding each case while also noting some of the news angles specific to each incident. Headlines are listed in chronological order based on available publishing times as listed on their respective sites.

Headlines from the Sterling case


WBRZ: Coroner says man shot by BRPD multiple times in chest, back; officer body cameras fell off


The Washington Post: Video captures white Baton Rouge police officer fatally shooting black man (Note: graphic video)

The Washington Post: What you need to know about the fatal police shooting of Alton Sterling

NBC 26: Alton Sterling’s death sparks strong response from social media

Fusion: This is who Alton Sterling was, before he was killed

CBS News: Disturbing new video shows Baton Rouge police shooting

CNN: Louisiana lawmaker calls on Justice Department to investigate police shooting death

MTV: Katy Perry, Rihanna, Kanye, and more celebs react to Alton Sterling’s death 


Newsweek: Drake and John Legend among stars to react to Alton Sterling and Philando Castile police shootings

USA Today: Baton Rouge mourns Alton Sterling at vigil

The New York Times: Baton Rouge Is Passionate, and Peaceful, After Shooting of Alton Sterling

Headlines from the Castile case


KAAL TV: Philando Castile Shooting: What We Know

Twin Cities Pioneer Press: Woman live-streams aftermath of boyfriend’s fatal shooting by police in Falcon Heights

Hip Hop DX: #PhilandoCastile: Man Dies In Falcon Heights Police Shooting Captured On Facebook Live (Note: graphic video)


CNBC: Philando Castile shot by police in Minnesota, reports say, a day after Alton Sterling shooting

Reason: Police in Minnesota Shoot and Kill Man, Allegedly in a Broken Tail Light Traffic Stop [Updated, Corrected]

TechCrunch: Facebook blames ‘technical glitch’ for temporary removal of Falcon Heights shooting video

The Washington Post: Bystander witnesses aftermath of Philando Castile’s shooting

BBC: Philando Castile and Alton Sterling – latest US police shooting black victims

BBC: Philando Castile: Transcript of Facebook Live shooting aftermath

New York Daily News: Philando Castile’s family remembers him as hard worker set to celebrate birthday 10 days after fatal police shooting

NPR: I’m Outraged’: Mother Of Philando Castile, Slain By Police, Speaks Out

USA Today: Minn. governor asks Justice Dept. to investigate police shooting

The Tennessean: Police chief orders officer decommissioned after Facebook post

Media circus around awful shootings

As one may imagine, news outlets strive to find story angles that differentiate them from their competition. Simultaneously, they also seek angles likely to garner clicks, which pushes the envelope of relevance for covering matters as serious as these shootings.

Given that the Sterling case is slightly older and presents coverage of the Castile case a readily accessible association, headlines surrounding the Sterling case feature longer reaches for news value and more basis on which pundits can editorialize for their audiences.

Some of the more pulpy takes from the Sterling case include:

The Modesto Bee: Baton Rouge parade mocked Black Lives Matter — now there’s a police shooting there

International Business Times: Cop Who Killed Alton Sterling Is White Donald Trump Supporter? Don’t Be Fooled By Internet Hoax

Fusion: This law is why Louisiana cops who kill people can go 30 days without being questioned

Jet: Alton Sterling: guilty of #breathingwhileblack

New York Daily News: Donald Trump avoids talking about Alton Sterling, makes ‘Frozen’ joke about Star of David

Detroit Free Press: Detroit sports celebrities weigh in on Alton Sterling shooting

Bustle: The Shooting Of Alton Sterling Makes This Sonia Sotomayor Dissent More Potent Than Ever

The Independent: Alton Sterling shooting: Black police officer tells colleague who killed salesman ‘Take the uniform off and put the KKK hoodie on’

Vox: Larry Wilmore on Alton Sterling: the punishment for being a black man shouldn’t be death

TMZ: Meek Mill accuses wrong guy of Killing Alton Sterling

Paper: Mischa Barton posts cosmically tone deaf Instagram post about Alton Sterling

Mirror UK: remembers Alton Sterling with VERY powerful image and brands shooting ‘different terrorism’

NME: Drake pens emotional open letter about police victim Alton Sterling


police shooting

You decide: Full dash-cam video of MWC police shooting by William W. Savage III