By:
June 22, 2022

On May 24, an 18-year-old gunman with an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. A little more than an hour later, 19 children and two teachers were dead.

Those are horrific facts, and that’s what we know. That’s really all we know for absolute certainty at this point.

But we’re learning more troubling news every day.

On Tuesday, the head of the Texas state police testified Tuesday that the law enforcement response that day was an “abject failure.” Col. Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said in a state senate hearing that there were enough officers to attempt to stop the gunman three minutes after he entered the school and that if they had bothered to check, they would’ve found that the door to the classroom where the shooter was holed up was unlocked.

Instead, officers waited more than an hour for more firepower and gear before entering. McGraw testified, “I don’t care if you have on flip-flops and Bermuda shorts, you go in.”

The Associated Press’ Jim Vertuno and Jake Bleiberg wrote, “The decision by police to hold back went against much of what law enforcement has learned in the two decades since the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado in which 13 people were killed in 1999, McCraw said.”

Vertuno and Bleiberg added, “The public safety chief spent nearly five hours offering the clearest picture yet of the massacre, outlining for the committee a series of other missed opportunities, communication breakdowns and errors based on an investigation that has included roughly 700 interviews.”

Much of McGraw’s criticism was directed at Uvalde schools police chief Pete Arredondo, who, according to the AP, has said he didn’t consider himself in charge and assumed someone else had taken control of the law enforcement response.

In the weeks following the shooting, some local authorities have tried to limit media coverage. Earlier this month, police threatened to arrest journalists for trespassing at the school district’s headquarters. My Poynter colleague Amaris Castillo talked with San Antonio Express-News executive editor Nora López about the obstacles they’ve faced from law enforcement officials and even bikers, who claimed to be working with police. López said, “In addition to the trauma of covering such an event, then to have to deal with all this harassment and attempts to stop us from reporting this story has been really disconcerting.”

The Texas Department of Public Safety has fought against the release of police body camera footage because, it claimed, the footage could be used to determine “weaknesses” in police response to such shootings.

But it’s important to allow the media to do their jobs, investigating and reporting on what happened, how the police responded, how decisions were made. The families of the victims and members of the community deserve answers. And authorities must be held accountable, not only for what has happened, but in hopes of preventing future tragedies.

Earlier this week, the Texas Tribune’s Terri Langford reviewed law enforcement transcripts and footage and found that officers with guns were ready to go into the classroom but were not given clear orders. Langford’s detailed account is a chilling timeline of what happened and what could have, potentially, been different if law enforcement had been more proactive. That kind of reporting is critical.

What happened that day cannot be changed now and that is tragic. But there are still questions that must be answered.

Jan. 6 hearings

Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, a former Georgia election worker, testifies as her mother, Ruby Freeman, listens, as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol continues to reveal its findings of a yearlong investigation. (Michael Reynolds/Pool Photo via AP)

The House select committee investigating the events of Jan. 6, 2021, continued its hearings on Tuesday and included emotional testimony from a mother and daughter who were targeted following their time as Georgia election workers. Both were falsely accused by former President Donald Trump and his allies of election fraud.

Ruby Freeman said, “There was nowhere I feel safe. Nowhere. Do you know how it feels to have the president of the United States to target you? The president of the United States is supposed to represent every American, not to target one. But he targeted me.”

Freeman’s daughter, Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, testified that she received “hateful” and “racist” threats, adding, “A lot of threats, wishing death upon me, telling me that I’ll be in jail with my mother and saying things like, ‘Be glad it’s 2020 and not 1920.’”

The committee also heard from Republican Arizona House Speaker Russell “Rusty” Bowers and Republican Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake wrote that Bowers “provided some of the most compelling testimony at Tuesday’s hearing — and of any hearing thus far.” The Post’s Jennifer Rubin called Bowers “perhaps the most compelling and effective witness the committee has questioned to date.”

“In doing so,” Blake continued, “he added to the growing volume of evidence that Trump’s team was told its plot to overturn the election was illegal.”

Yahoo News’ Andrew Romano wrote, “Bowers was the first of several witnesses at Tuesday’s hearing to detail efforts by Trump and his inner circle to undo the former president’s 2020 election loss by pressuring state officials to subvert the will of the voters and put forward false slates of electors.”

During his testimony, an emotional Bowers said, “I will not play with laws I swore allegiance to. How else will I ever approach (God) in the wilderness of life, knowing that I ask of this guidance only to show myself a coward in defending the course He led me to take?”

CBS News’ Robert Costa said, on air, “Sober and serious testimony from the Republican state house speaker in Arizona.”

Appearing on ABC News, former New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie said Bowers’ testimony was the “most powerful” so far, adding, “This is somebody who wanted to be a good and loyal Republican, supported the president, voted for him, did all he could for him, but would refuse to do something illegal.”

Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney, who is co-chair of the committee, said, “Donald Trump didn’t care about the threats of violence. He did not condemn them. He made no effort to stop them.”

That’s just a quick glance at Tuesday’s hearings. Here’s a good roundup from The Associated Press’ Lisa Mascaro and Farnoush Amiri.

Meanwhile, CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett summed it up this way: “What today was about, was about using a falsehood, a lie about the election to intimidate, harass and ruin the lives of Americans who live in your neighborhood, who have for years done this hard and glorious work. They don’t get paid a lot. They have no prominence, no protection, no power. But they carry out election work, dutifully, elections large and small. What do they get for the hard work in 2020? Sexualized threats, death threats, continuous harassment. … Is that an America we’re comfortable with?”

CNN White House correspondent John Harwood tweeted, “whatever its other consequences, the Jan. 6 committee is pushing the national political conversation toward clearer distinctions between truth and lies, right and wrong, people who actually uphold American values and dangerous frauds who trash them for power or money or both”

Adding up the ads

It won’t be long before digital newspaper ad revenue surpasses print newspaper ad revenue. It’ll happen in 2026, according to a report from PwC. Axios’ Sara Fischer reported on it, writing, “Newspapers have been slower to migrate advertising revenues to digital than the broader publishing landscape because of their local footprint.”

Fischer goes on to write, “U.S. newspaper publishers will lose $2.4 billion in ad investment between 2021 and 2026, largely due to print advertising losses. While digital will grow marginally, it won’t be enough to stop the industry from losing ad revenues overall.”

The estimation is that, by 2026, digital newspaper ad revenue will be somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 billion, which should be slightly more than print.

There’s also this prediction from PwC: Newspaper circulation revenues — both digital and print — are expected to surpass advertising in 2022. Fischer’s story has more information.

Media tidbits

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Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at tjones@poynter.org.

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for Poynter.org. He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
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