Who Shot Ya? [Robert VerBruggen]
From a media perspective, this Los Angeles Times story is interesting for a number of reasons.
The first is that it continues writer Chuck Philips's take on the Tupac Shakur killing. The tale is complicated, but basically it goes like this: Rapper Shakur was shot and wounded in 1994. He blamed the attack on East Coast rap label Bad Boy Entertainment—associated with the Crips street gang, headed by Puff Daddy (now P. Diddy, real name Sean Combs), and starring rapper Notorious B.I.G. In their songs, Shakur and B.I.G. traded taunts and barbs. Shakur signed a contract with Death Row Records, a California-based label associated with the Bloods street gang, which competed intensely with Bad Boy. In 1996 in Las Vegas, Shakur was again shot, this time fatally, and the next year, the same happened to B.I.G. in Los Angeles.
In 2002, Philips wrote an L.A. Times story claiming that B.I.G. had been in Las Vegas the day of the Shakur murder, paid $1 million for the hit, and even handed the murder weapon to a Crips member. An alternate theory holds that affiliates of Death Row Records—whose head, Suge Knight, was sitting next to Shakur during the shooting—ordered the hit as retaliation for Shakur's plan to leave the label. Randall Sullivan, a Rolling Stone contributor and author of LAbyrinth, advocates this explanation and suggests that Death Row people also ordered the hit on B.I.G.
In the new story, Philips continues in the blame-Puff vein, tying Combs and his label to the 1994 attack with "newly discovered information."
A second notable aspect to the story is the Associated Press's coverage, saying the 1994 shooting "triggered the celebrated feud between East and West Coast rappers that led to the killings of Shakur and B.I.G." Perhaps unintentionally, this takes a rather strong position, stating as fact that each side killed the other's rapper. Police have charged no one in either shooting, and a whole range of theories abound on each (besides, Tupac never even died).
Three is the Times's bizarre decision to run the story online only. From the AP:
The story . . . was the first investigative report published as a Web exclusive, said Meredith Artley, editor of LATimes.com.
"This piece was perfect for the Web," Artley said. "The Web audience skews younger. We had all these great multimedia elements, and we said we really don't need to wait to fit this in the paper."
I'm not sure what's really behind this decision, but everyone who's ever worked at a daily newspaper knows that no one "waits to fit in"—not when they're a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer with a scoop that will prompt a reaction story from the AP, at least. For crying out loud, the piece claims superstar Puff Daddy knew about a plan to shoot one of the world's most famous rappers. I'll bet they could have found somewhere to put it.
03/18 10:49 AMShare