AJAs 2018 Finalists


Slug/Label Fredericton Shooting
Date Aired or Published Aug. 10, 2018
Media outlet where first aired or published: CBC New Brunswick website
Name of Program: CBC New Brunswick
If co-produced, list partner:
Location: Fredericton, New Brunswick
List awards, grants: N/A
Running time (TV/Radio): N/A

Short explanation of the story and how it developed:

On the morning of Aug. 10, four people, including two Fredericton police officers, were shot to death on the city’s north side. From the moment we first heard about the gunshots, my job was to keep people informed, to gather and assemble the pieces as events unfolded, on a day when a stunned police force seemed unwilling to help. At 7:20 a.m., almost two hours into what had been a quiet shift on the digital desk, I got a call through Facebook Messenger from a firefighter. He had just heard about a shooting with multiple fatalities. At 7:30 a.m. a brief story was published, although I still did not have confirmation from police. Seventeen minutes later, police sent out a tweet about an “ongoing incident” but they made no mention of gunshots or deaths until 8:17 a.m. — almost an hour after I first heard about the shooting. The story evolved quickly and dramatically. As CBC reporters went to the blocked-off scene, I scanned social media, talked to hospital officials and other sources, and called dozens of people in the area. During some calls, I could hear gunshots at the other end of the line. Some residents told me what they could see and hear. Others hung up so they could bring families and neighbours inside to safety. I bolstered our coverage with live tweets from officials, photos and video footage of the scene, and graphics that located where events were unfolding. At the same time, I sorted through a host of questions, including the hospital-led confusion over the number of people shot but still alive. In the end, only the alleged shooter, survived the shots fired that morning. By 5:28 p.m, when I learned the names of the two fallen constables, Rob Costello and Sara Burns, and one of the two dead civilians, Donnie Robichaud, I had updated CBC’s main story of the shooting 10 times. I truly believe more lives were spared that day because suppressed information by city police was quickly discovered and shared by CBC New Brunswick.

Resources of the newsroom (money and time) available to complete the story:

CBC New Brunswick used all of its resources to cover the shooting. I was in the newsroom reporting and putting the story together for our digital audience. I relied on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to find out more information from local officials. Social media also allowed me to find and contact nearby witnesses. I was searching for anything that would help the close to 3 million readers from around the world comprehend what was happening in New Brunswick’s capital. I relied on video and radio footage from my colleagues on scene. I also used photos and tweets from colleagues out in the field for my online stories. I also relied on a livestream with CBC News host Harry Forestell. I worked on the story as soon as it broke around 7:20 a.m. until about 8 p.m.

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