Orlando Sentinel focuses on community healing in wake of tragedy

Sentinel

The Orlando Sentinel is taking an unconventional approach to today’s front page in the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Instead of featuring a news article about the casualties, the Sentinel published a front-page editorial that looks at how the local community is coming together to remember those affected by a tragedy that killed 49 people and injured 53 others.

“We decided the front page of the Orlando Sentinel needed to reflect what we were hearing throughout Sunday about the shooting at the Pulse nightclub,” Orlando Sentinel Managing Editor John Cutter wrote. “Many talked of the sadness that we were now the leaders on an infamous list of mass shootings in the United States. But also we heard a growing chorus throughout the day that this horror would not be how we are remembered.”

Titled “Our Community Will Heal,” the front-page editorial emphasizes that the community can’t be defined by what happened but by how it responds.

“We will not — we must not — let Sunday’s heinous act of brutality and cowardice define our community,” the editorial reads. “Beyond offering our abundant prayers and sympathy, we must ensure that those who survive — who will forever carry the scars from the trauma — know that they are not alone today, tomorrow or in the months and years to come. Let our community define itself by our unequivocal response: United.”

In the aftermath of a tragedy like this, it’s too soon to start telling Restorative Narratives that show how people and communities have made a meaningful progression from a place of despair to a place of resilience. Often, these narratives don’t emerge until months or even years after a tragedy has occurred. It’s not too early, though, to report on moments of resilience and to lay the groundwork for what could become a Restorative Narrative later on. This is the time to practice good journalism — to tell the story of what happened and to show signs of hope as community members work together to heal and support one another.

Sentinel staffers are doing a good job of this, and are reminding one another that they need to take care of themselves during this difficult time.

“You can really tell it’s a newsroom that cares about the community,” Sentinel multimedia artist Charles Minshew told Poynter.org’s Kristen Hare. Minshew interned at The Denver Post when the Aurora theater shooting occurred. Hare writes: “It sounds simple, but Minshew’s tried to stop and ask his coworkers if they’re OK. It’s something he saw in Denver. You have to take care of yourself during something like this, he said.”

To see how the community is coming together on social media, follow the hashtags #OrlandoUnited and #LoveisLove.

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