The decision by two media outlets this week to release a 77-minute video showing police inaction during the shooting at Robb Elementary School was lambasted by residents of Uvalde, Texas, even though they themselves have spent weeks calling for such transparency. was called upon.
The families of 19 children and two teachers killed by an 18-year-old man on May 24 said Austin American-Statesman and KVUE-TV were insensitive in publishing the videos before those directly affected had a chance to see them.
Surveillance video released Tuesday, later shown and described by other news organizations, records the moment the gunman enters the school and includes gunshots from inside a classroom. It shows police entering the school and then wandering down a hallway for more than an hour before the gunman is killed.
The community’s response reflects the reality that journalism should often be taken lightly.
The Texas House committee investigating the police’s response to the massacre planned to show the victims’ families Sunday’s photos and then release them to the public. The panel will still hold a closed session with residents to discuss the conclusion of its investigation.
“They surprise us with a leak,” lamented Angel Garza, whose 10-year-old daughter, Amery Joe, was killed in Robb, according to CNN, who visited some relatives at an event in Washington this week. had covered. “What makes them think they’re about to publish images like our children who can’t even speak for themselves, but want to follow and broadcast to the whole world what their last moments were? What do you think? Is that okay?”
Warning: Disturbing video. viewer discretion advised.
Newly released surveillance video from the Uvalde school shooting obtained by the Austin-American Statesman shows what happened inside Robb Elementary School on May 24. pic.twitter.com/ms7rAHHVSp
— CBS News (@CBSNews) 13 July 2022
Kimberly Rubio told a Washington event that she understood the need to hold responsible officials accountable, but she didn’t want to hear gunshots that day. Their 10-year-old daughter Lexi was killed in the massacre.
Although he disagrees with the manner of the investigation, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin called the release of the video unprofessional.
“There was no reason for the families to see this,” McLaughlin said.
“They needed to watch the video, but they didn’t need to let the gunman in or hear the gunshots.”
Both media outlets said they reached out to the families before the video was released, although it was not clear how many people they searched or what the reaction was. The American-Statesman referred to a reporter in a column written by the newspaper’s executive editor Manny Garcia, which did not touch on the subject. KVUE news director Christina Ginn did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
On social media, Ginn retweeted another journalist’s comment that police may have shared the video with families. Journalists have been demanding his statement for weeks, as the police response is the focus of the investigation.
Before publishing the video, both the media edited the sound of the scream. The image of a boy in the hallway who saw the gunman and quickly fled to the safe was electronically faded to protect his privacy.
When KVUE first aired the video, it said that Tony Plohatsky, a reporter who works for both the newspaper and the television station, had first seen the video two weeks ago.
They said that they are looking at waiting until the video is officially released. “The problem with this is that the authorities have consistently, from day one, failed the people of Uvalde,” Plohatsky told CNN. He declined to comment further to the Associated Press.
“Truth always wins,” wrote Garcia in his message to American-Statesman readers, “maybe not on our watches, but truth always prevails.”
Journalism ethics expert Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies said the media could wait until next week, but they were not acting in the best interest of the people. In this case, the video had clear and strong news value, he said.
It is often difficult to make journalism decisions in the public interest without upsetting a small group.
While family members are key stakeholders in the story, “we are talking about a broader interest group, and that is the public who believe that the police will act in the public interest. You can clearly see that is not happening.” is,” he said.