He will not define our coverage, but today he must remain a part of our coverage.
As our country once again struggles to understand the incomprehensible, we once again find ourselves debating on how to proceed in a newsroom far too used to the ramifications of mass shootings.
No decision will feel like the absolute right one when dealing with something like this.
Yet we, as journalists, know all too well that we would not be doing our jobs if we simply chose to confine the shooter’s name to a world of hushed whispers or flippant anonymity.
He had a name.
It’s not a name we will repeat frequently or unnecessarily.
But he had a name. And a past. And a story.
The easy thing to do today would be to keep his name off our newscasts. Many mass shooters, we know, have some sort of twisted fame in mind when they plan their attacks. Some want to be remembered.
We also know – thanks to attacks we’ve covered locally – we have a role when it comes to preventing the next mass shooting.
But he had a name.
Who was he?
A killer. Undoubtedly.
He was also a person who somehow decided it was time for him to kill as many innocent people as possible.
And, for that reason alone, we can’t seek to sanitize a horrific mess by keeping his name out of it.
His name tells us who.
Someday, hopefully soon, it will also help us answer a much more important question.