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This week, given the spate of deadly shootings over the last two weeks, VOSD’s Will Huntsberry talked with a security consultant about how law enforcement officers prepare to respond to mass shootings inside schools.
Their conversation speaks to the inevitability of more violent, tragic episodes.
Yet despite the fact that mass shootings have become horrifyingly routine, there remains plenty of room for improvement and reflection when it comes to our coverage of those episodes and their aftermath.
That became quite clear early in the week after the New York Times changed and apologized for a headline that gave incredible, even irresponsible, deference to President Donald Trump in reporting on his response to the back-to-back shootings in El Paso and Dayton. (For what it’s worth, the Union-Tribune’s headline went even further in its uncritical acceptance of Trump’s narrative; it blared “President Condemns Racist Hate, Bigotry” on its front page.)
Even setting aside the specific wording, many Latino journalists have rightly pointed out that most coverage of the El Paso shooting in particular, in which Latinos were specifically targeted by the shooter, still kept Trump as the main focus.
“Despite the fact that the attacker purposefully targeted Latinos, that is not what most outlets chose to emphasize,” noted NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro.
Similar criticism was aimed locally, at the U-T editorial board, which published a full-page editorial on the shootings but also focused more on politicians than on the people who were targeted.
“Words have consequences, but so does their omission. The omission of any acknowledgment of what happened in El Paso and how it affects the Latinx community is worrying. That omission in San Diego’s paper of record will continue to make us invisible to the eyes of history,” wrote Luis Gomez, who, until recently, worked for the people who wrote that editorial.
When the shootings this week began to fade from view, they were replaced with the image of a sobbing young girl, terrified because her father had been swept up in an immigration raid.
If you’re constantly being bombarded by these images, and this reality, it’d be impossible not to feel targeted.
Some coverage did acknowledge that reality: The Los Angeles Times, for example, spoke with dozens of Latino community members about the terror they’re facing. “Nothing compares to the reality Latinos are facing today,” the paper wrote.
The awful truth is that like with school shootings, these scenarios aren’t likely to stop anytime soon. So newsrooms, like police, should start doing meaningful work about how their coverage of incidents like these in the future will do a true service to the communities that need it.
What VOSD Learned This Week
A suicide inside the Central Library stunned employees, and underscored the institution’s role at the front lines of the region’s mental health crisis.
Ry Rivard continues to lead the state on coverage of how home insurers are responding to devastating wildfires. This week, he revealed insurance companies rely on secret formulas to decide who gets insured and who gets denied, and that they’ve figured out how to exploit legal loopholes to avoid triggering public hearings before hiking rates.
Gompers Preparatory Academy is one of a handful of charters in town whose teachers have unionized. Ashly McGlone checked in on the effort to secure their first contract at Gompers, and how the community is reacting to the change. Speaking of teachers unions, union-backed San Diego Unified school board trustees have long opposed efforts to force them to run in subdistrict-only elections. Now, San Diego City Council Democrats appear to be changing course on whether to let voters decide whether to force the district to accept the change.
There was also more bad news for the Sweetwater Union High School District this week: The County Office of Education accused the district of continuing to misstate its finances – by tens of millions of dollars.
I rounded up the bills from local legislators to keep an eye on as state lawmakers get back to work next week. Scott and Andy detailed the big decision facing the mayor on inclusionary housing rules.
What I’m Reading
- This profile of Elizabeth Warren focuses on her teaching background and its centrality to her campaign. I found her approach to teaching also applies to how I think about journalism: “I don’t get up and teach to show how smart I am. I get up and teach to show how smart you are, to help you have the power and the tools so that you can build what you want to build.” (The Cut)
- An undercover investigator of online hate known as “the savant” works to stop mass shootings before they happen. (Cosmopolitan)
- Violence like the El Paso mass shooting has disrupted white nationalists’ plans to gradually normalize their radical ideology. (Reuters)
- One of Toni Morrison’s legacies that flies under the radar: Her insistence that motherhood “has never required us to prostrate ourselves at an altar of deferred personal goals.” (Washington Post)
- Line of the Week
“He also, as if living according to lines from a surreal folk song, has owned pet cobras and castles, was forced to return a stolen dinosaur skull, has made and lost a fortune and is keeping a pyramid waiting for him — as a tomb — down in New Orleans.” – Ladies and gentlemen, Nicolas Cage