Orlando is a city in crisis--coping with one tragedy after another. A young singer is shot and killed by a stranger who came to the city apparently intent on killing her. A terrorist attacks the LGBT community, killing 49 at a gay club. A toddler visiting Disney World is snatched away by an alligator right in front of his parents-- his body recovered from a man-made lagoon on Disney property. How much more can this community endure? These stories are being felt deeply across the country and around the world. But for those in Orlando, it must feel like a never-ending nightmare.
The stories being shared by the nightclub shooting survivors and victims' families are heart wrenching. One after another recounting the horror and the loss. I applaud CNN and anchor Anderson Cooper who decided to lead his newscast on Monday, not with the latest on the gunman, but with the victims--their names, photos and personal information.
As I watched the coverage of the worst mass shooting in our history, I saw some networks show multiple photos of the grinning gunman. I won’t argue that a single photo of this terrorist should not be aired. But, why every available photo? What purpose does this serve?
There will come a time, as it does after every tragedy, when the media presence will be intrusive. For now, traditional news media needs to be in Orlando telling the victims’ stories, the heroes’ stories and helping us understand what happened.
Social media is playing such an important role in these crises. It gives us outlets to express our grief and our anger. It also is a vehicle for law enforcement and other agencies to provide the latest information to the public in the fastest way possible. Long after traditional media moves on to the next major story, citizen-journalists will use social media to make sure we never forget the victims.
To the mayor, law enforcement and the trauma surgeons who faced the media these past days, thank you, for the professionalism and empathy you demonstrated. Crisis communication is something no one wants to do, but those who do it well, provide a great service for the public.