When I first heard of the horrific shootings at a school in Connecticut I was shocked. How could anyone do something this evil?
As I kept listening to media reports, the name of the mass murderer of seven adults and 20 children was revealed. I became angry.
Why were we (the media) giving this person so much attention?
At first, it seemed in my mind that we were giving the shooter the fame he apparently wanted. His name was repeated over, and over, and over again. His childhood, his background, his alleged mental disorders and his possible motives were reported, discussed, and debated on television, online, and in newspapers. I was tired of it, and it just seemed offensive to talk about the shooter more than the victims.
I called our publisher and we discussed not publishing the shooter’s name or showing his face in the daily newspapers in our group out of respect for those that were killed and their families. We decided this might be good, but it may not be possible as deadlines were passing and it may be too late to change what was already being printed.
Then, instead of the father and regular person inside me trying to deal with this tragedy whom was controlling my thoughts, the journalist in my head began to think. This tragic event deserves our attention. We must know the answers to who, what, why, when, where and how. We must know the answers to these questions to even attempt to understand and, hopefully, begin to heal. We need to know as much information as possible, so that we can make the changes needed to try to prevent these types of evil acts.
Should we stop remembering 9/11? Columbine High School? Virginia Tech? The other mass murders in our nation’s history? That would be even more tragic to forget those who lost their lives to these terrible events.
But do we need to talk about the shooter and his life when we remember? I guess that is a debatable question.
In the end, I believe we need to show and talk about all of it, everything, so options can be explored on how to fix them. We need to understand the gravity of this shooting and realize this isn’t an isolated case. It has happened before and it can happen again, if we don’t do something about it.
I’m am not for getting rid of citizens’ right to bear arms and have guns, but it shouldn’t be easier to get a gun than it is to get a driver’s license. All options must be on the table as we move forward.
I don’t want to make this shooter infamous, but this act of violence is worth his time and our consideration. It must be reported on, examined, talked about, and remembered.
The media, and really all of us on social network sites, must be careful and respectful of how we report on tragic events. We should not be sensationalizing them to sell newspapers or grab ratings, but reporting facts and telling stories that honor and remember those lost or those whose heroic efforts saved others. These are the stories and information our readers really want to read.
So, even in this editorial, I have not mentioned the shooter’s name. It can be found in hundreds of places and has been reported on over and over again by many media outlets. However, I am writing this as a father of two that can’t even begin to imagine the pain and suffering these families are experiencing. Out of respect for them, and until I read the names of all 27 killed (which haven’t been made available to me prior to writing this) I will not mention the shooter’s name.
My deepest sympathies and prayers go out to all of these families and all families and victims of violence. We will, and should, never forget.