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News Agencies Descend on Colorado Following Shooting Tragedy

Reports that a gunman had opened fire on a Denver suburb movie screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” first appeared on social media early Friday morning.

On Friday, national news outlets went into overdrive to cover the deadly shooting at a packed Colorado movie theater, with most flooding the scene with news teams. The broadcast networks all announced special coverage plans.

Reports that a Colorado gunman had opened fire on a Denver suburb movie screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” first appeared on social media early Friday morning, close to 2 a.m. The social network Reddit played a key role early on in chronicling real-time reactions, including from inside the theater.

The news spread on local media soon after, with NBC-affiliate and Gannett-owned KUSA Channel 9, first on the scene, and the Denver Post’s first dispatch up at 2:42 a.m., according to a time-stamp on its story. The Associated Press moved its first item on the wire at 4:33 a.m. The AP’s Denver-based staff was joined Friday by its other reporters from the region, a spokesman said. A total of eight reporters contributed to an update that went out at 10:45 a.m. and the number of staff on the scene would increase throughout the weekend.

Three reporters will be covering over the weekend for USA Today, including a Fort Collins-based correspondent, said executive editor of content Chet Czarniak. The daily isn’t planning on sending photographers, and will instead rely on its corporate sibling, KUSA, and a Gannett-owned regional broadcast-graphics group, for photo and video. The news broke after its Friday print edition closed, though the Web site had live video from KUSA up close to 5:30 a.m. The paper’s next print edition is out Monday.

Initial coverage for the New York Times was led by Denver bureau chief Jack Healy and reporter Dan Frosch, while other reporters contributed from Washington and New York. In addition, “A team of reporters from the national desk and the investigative news team” were on their way Friday, a spokeswoman said.

Closer to Denver, the Los Angeles Times had a stringer on the ground Friday morning and dispatched four other reporters, including two national correspondents and two from Los Angeles. A spokeswoman said the development of the story will determine the length of their stay. The newsweeklies will cover the news mainly online; Newsweek has a double-issue in newsstands and is dark next week; The Daily Beast sent two reporters. And Time, on newsstands already, sent three reporters, but a spokesman did not have the print magazine’s plans for its next issue.

Of the wires, Bloomberg News had three reporters in Aurora Friday, including two who form its Denver bureau. Two more reporters, from Arizona and Los Angeles, are en route, said a spokeswoman, and are expected to remain in Colorado for an extended period. Dow Jones and Reuters did not respond to requests for comment by deadline.

All broadcast TV network news anchors will air live from the scene during the evening broadcasts, and all have follow-up specials of their newsmagazines scheduled; ABC’s “20/20” and “Nightline” will both dedicate their programs to the news. ABC seems to have led the broadcast networks with the first national news break at 4:53 a.m., according to a spokesman; CBS’s news break came at 5:45 a.m., said a spokesman. CNN, which will have nine correspondents and anchors reporting live, was first on cable, at 4:44 a.m., as per a press release. In an embarrasing moment, however, ABC’s Brian Ross incorrectly reported the alleged shooter was connected to the Tea Party.

The Denver Post, a newspaper of nearly 200 editorial staffers that has been hit by staff cuts and budget reductions recently, had mobilized its newsroom Friday morning. A reporter who answered a phone call to the newsroom said, “We’re all flooded.” Three reporters shared a byline on its first story on the shooting, which had three more contributors, and the Web site was frenetically updated throughout the day. Executive editor Greg Moore did not respond to requests for comment. The newsroom was reduced last year when 19 staffers took buyouts, and 16 copy editors were laid off.

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