My colleague Jennifer Oliver O’Connell reported earlier on a mass shooting in Austin, Texas, late Friday night.
Fourteen people were wounded, with at least two critically-injured during a shooting in downtown Austin.
Two men are suspected of being involved in the shooting, according to the initial reports; although the police later said the number was unclear, but there was a description of one of the suspect.
But it’s what the Austin American-Statesman said about that suspect that is causing a lot of talk today.
At the bottom of its article on the shooting, the paper included the following.
Editor’s note: Police have only released a vague description of the suspected shooter as of Saturday morning. The Austin American-Statesman is not including the description as it is too vague at this time to be useful in identifying the shooter and such publication could be harmful in perpetuating stereotypes. If more detailed information is released, we will update our reporting.
They also tweeted this:
As part of our public safety reporting policy @statesman does not publish vague descriptions of possible suspects.
At this time, information provided by police of a possible shooter falls into this category and could perpetuate stereotypes and put innocent individuals at risk.
— Austin Statesman (@statesman) June 12, 2021
So in other words, let’s not actually report the news, our alleged job. Let’s not provide people with what information that we may have to protect the public or by which they might be able to identify the suspect. Let’s play some kind of woke game, because we don’t want to say what the race of the shooter is. Um, guys? Not giving the description can risk innocent lives.
We’ve seen some pretty bad, liberal ideas, but this one may just take the cake.
Now, the police weren’t so reticent; they put out a description of that suspect, and it wasn’t as “vague” as the paper claimed.
So, we can see below what the paper didn’t want to say.
The suspect(s) remains at-large. It is unknown if there is one, or multiple suspects involved. There is one suspect described as a black male, with dread locks, wearing a black shirt and a skinny build. The area will be closed for an extended amount of time to process the crime scene. Investigators are collecting and reviewing camera footage and surveillance video.
Now, of course, this description also went out on television, so I’m not sure what the Austin Statesman thought they were hiding with their effort. It basically just made them look ridiculous and untrustworthy as a news source. What information would be necessary for them to actually cover the news? The guy’s name and address?
Fourteen people have been shot, and they’re concerned about “perpetuating stereotypes”? Maybe, just maybe, that shouldn’t be what they’re thinking about? And reporting truth isn’t “perpetuating stereotypes.” But, this is where going over the slide with crazy thinking has brought us — and it’s a dangerous place.