After the Fort Hood shooting on Wednesday, as they updated readers on the latest through Facebook, the Killeen (Texas) Daily Herald posted this message early Thursday morning:
The Daily Herald’s metro editor, Kristi Parker Johnson, clarified the point further after a few angry comments.
Coverage of the shooting yesterday unfolded from minute to minute, Parker Johnson told Poynter in a phone interview. And as unofficial accounts came in with the name of the shooter, the newspaper’s presentation editor did a search in the archives.
The paper had written a feature story about Ivan Lopez (who was not the shooter but shared the same name) in 2010, Parker Johnson said. But as they looked at details of that Ivan Lopez compared with what they were hearing of the presumed shooter, including details about rank, they figured that it wasn’t him. Either way, they weren’t running anything until they had official confirmation that this was the same man. Staff also fielded requests for photos, including that one, which they denied.
Parker Johnson left the newsroom around midnight and at 12:45 a.m. Thursday morning, got confirmation that it wasn’t the same man. By that time, though, they discovered other media outlets had gone looking through the Daily Herald’s archives, too, and pulled the picture.
Parker Johnson regrets that, when they found the photo yesterday, they didn’t just pull it until they knew more.
“We are very sensitive about the military and we try to maintain a good relationship with Fort Hood,” she said.
In covering such a big part of their community (which everyone in the newsroom is connected to, she said,) they try to respect protocol. But she also felt it was the newspapers job to protect someone who was innocent.
Later on Thursday, Parker Johnson said, the paper will run a story about the innocent man and his experience. Most of the newsroom staff wasn’t present for the last shooting in 2009, Parker Johnson said, but coverage between the two is pretty different, she thought. Yesterday, the Daily Herald had the ability to update readers as the story developed.
“And we couldn’t do that five years ago,” she said. “We’ve come a long way.”
Here’s the front page of the Daily Herald, from Newseum.