Monday’s release of dramatic surveillance video in the Michael Dunn shooting case has generated coverage from national and even international news organizations. Some, like The New York Times, added their own reporting to the story of the first-term Lakeland city commissioner shooting and killing a suspected shoplifter at his store, Vets Army Navy Surplus on North Florida Avenue.

Others based their articles largely on accounts from Central Florida news sources, such as The Ledger, Tampa Bay Times and Tampa TV stations.

Coverage from mainstream national news sources include:

  • ABC, which mentioned that the footage was released the same day as the funeral for victim Cristobal Lopez, 50, in Zolfo Springs.
  • NBC, which highlighted that the Oct. 3 shooting “has drawn renewed attention to Florida’s controversial ‘stand your ground’ law, which was enacted in 2005 with support from gun lobbyists.”
  • CBS, which also played up the stand-your-ground angle.
  • Newsweek, which emphasized Dunn’s opposition when an anti-gun rally was held in Munn Park following the school shootings in Parkland.

New York Times reporter Melissa Gomez, a recent University of Florida journalism graduate who was editor of the campus student newspaper, asked an assistant state attorney about the timing of the video release. “We just felt that keeping it secret any longer did not benefit the investigation,” Jacob Orr told her.

She also interviewed Robert Hilton Sr., who was driving his car when he was hit by a bullet accidentally shot by a then-19-year-old Dunn while he was practicing his aim inside his home. The two settled a lawsuit, he told her.

In addition, the Associated Press sent out a short report to its many international client news organizations.

Breitbart, a partisan conservative news organization, assigned 2nd Amendment columnist AWR Hawkins to a brief report that had received 766 reader comments as of 3:45 p.m. today.

Fox News relied heavily on Tampa affiliate Fox 13 News for its report.

In the world of tabloid journalism:

  • The Daily Mail, based in London, used a particularly long headline: Shocking moment a local Florida politician, 47, fatally shoots a shoplifter, 50, at point blank range as he tries to escape from his Army Navy surplus store after stealing a hatchet
  • The New York Post went with: Shocking video shows politician fatally shooting alleged shoplifter.
  • The New York Daily News called Dunn a “gun-loving city commissioner” in its lead paragraph.

State Attorney Brian Haas has said his agency’s investigation into the shooting should be finished by the end of the week.


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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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