Analysis: Deadly attack on Nigeria's Bayero university in Kano

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The article Deadly attack on Nigeria's Bayero university in Kano posted April 29 on the BBC News website is an example of an international news story.

At least 16 people have been killed in a gun and bomb attack at a university in Nigeria's northern city of Kano, Nigerian Red Cross officials say.

I would say "an estimated" instead of "at least." It just seems more concrete, which I think this story calls for. "Gun and bomb attack" sounds awkward. Why not just "shooting and bombing?" I like that it was sourced, but was there not a more specific person than just "officials?" Otherwise, it is a solid lede that conveys the most important information.

Six others were in a serious condition following the attack at Bayero University campus where Christian worshippers were holding a service.

I think the "a" before serious condition can be cut. A "the" should be added before Bayero University campus. "Were holding" could just be "held" to eliminate passive.

Police are searching for the gunmen.

It is weird to give this a paragraph all to itself. It is important to know, obviously, but I think it could be attached to the beginning of the next paragraph. "Are searching" is a little passive, but I can only think to replace it with "continue to search."

No group has said it launched the attack, but the violent Islamist Boko Haram group is active in Kano. It has recently attacked churches.

"Group" is such a vague word to use in this situation. I think "terrorist organization" would have been clearer. I think I would have used "admitted" instead of "said" since I think it is a little stronger. It is good to know that there have been recent attacks, but I need more details than that. I want to know how similar they were to this attack so I can understand how strong the possibility is that it was this terrorist organization that made the attacks.

Nigeria's central government has struggled to contain the militant group, which operates mainly in the predominantly Muslim north, but has also struck as far south as the capital, Abuja.

Wouldn't north be capitalized here since it is referring to a region, not a direction? I think this can be split into two sentences at "which."

Sunday's attack took place in one of the lecture theatres used as a place of worship by Christians.

This is good information. It probably could have gone a little higher in the story, just to logistically set the scene.

A witness told AFP news agency the attackers had first thrown in explosives and fired shots, "causing a stampede among worshippers".

"They now pursued them, shooting them with guns. They also attacked another service at the sporting complex."

The period should be within the quotes. This quote really could have been paraphrased since it is mostly factual. The stampede is the only interesting part. Also, it is unfortunate that all the BBC could get was an unidentified witness stolen from the AFP.

Another witness spoke of "pandemonium", and said he had seen two men shooting indiscriminately.

Again, if the witness is unidentified and the only thing you are quoting is pandemonium, this can probably just be cut. Also, what does shooting indiscriminately mean? I think that can be simplified to create a better visual.

Mohammed Suleiman, a history lecturer at the university, said security guards had to run for their lives when the violence broke out.

"For over 30 minutes a series of bomb explosions and gun shots took over the old campus, around the academic blocks," he told Reuters news agency.

Yes, finally a source that is actually sourced! But, it was still stolen from Reuters. Also, I'm more interested in the fact that security guards, who should be protecting the university community, were running for their lives than I am about the academic blocks. Someone should have looked into that story.

A Red Cross spokesman said adults - possibly professors - and three women were among the casualties. Several needed urgent blood transfusions.

I don't understand why it is so hard to get specific names for sources. Also, it is never good to write "possibly" or anything that is unsure. I'd rather the writer state that it is unknown and can't be confirmed than plant a possibly false idea in readers' heads.

Kano state police spokesman Ibrahim Idris said that by the time police arrived, the attackers had "disappeared into the neighbourhood". A manhunt is under way.

This is interesting. How did these guys get away before police got there? Wasn't this attack going on for 30 or more minutes? I think that should be looked into. Also, manhunt is a bit dramatic. Sexy, but I think "search" would have worked just fine.

But the situation at the university was now calm, according to the Red Cross spokesman.

Boko Haram carried out a bombing in Kano in January that killed more than 180 people, its deadliest attack to date.

I think it should be "is now calm" since we are talking about the present condition of the university. The kicker is an interesting bit of information, but since it is still unconfirmed if this group is actually responsible, I'm not sure it is relevant.

Overall, this wasn't a bad international news story. It was written when the story broke, so the lack of proper sourcing can probably be forgiven. My biggest concern with this is the uncertainty the writer reports. It is ok if the reporter doesn't know all of the information because likely no one does yet. But, it should be reported that things are unconfirmed, not that there are possibilities. If this terrorist group isn't responsible, than more damage could be done by this article than good. Ethically, it is always important to remember not to sell the sensational story (such as Christians versus terrorist Muslims) and just write the facts.

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This page contains a single entry by ryanx790 published on April 29, 2012 2:32 PM.

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