By:
January 24, 2023

On Monday, another person died as a result of the mass shooting over the weekend in Monterey Park, California. That raises the number of those killed to 11.

And we’re learning more about the shooter — 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, who shot and killed himself Sunday after being surrounded by police while in a white van in Torrance, about 30 miles from Monterey Park.

The Los Angeles Times’ coverage of the shooting has been superb.

Times reporters Richard Winton, Matthew Ormseth, Hannah Fry, Alene Tchekmedyian and Hayley Smith wrote, “The investigation into a mass shooting in Monterey Park is focused on the gunman’s prior interactions at two dance studios he targeted and whether jealousy over a relationship was the motive, law enforcement sources said.”

The Times added, “They also believe Tran was having unspecified emotional problems that had been getting worse in the weeks before the shooting.”

The Times noted the investigation is still in its early stages and it could take weeks to “unravel what happened.”

The front page of Monday’s Los Angeles Times, as you would expect, covered the story prominently. What was not expected was that one of the two main photos was of the shooter dead in his van.

The photo, taken by Times staff photographer Allen J. Schaben, is not gory, and was taken from a distance. But the shooter is dead and the caption reads, “Officials investigate after the suspect died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Torrance on Sunday.” (If you want to see the front page of the Times, click here.)

On Monday, I reached out to the Los Angeles Times to ask about the decision to run the photo.

Here’s the explanation from Hillary Manning, the Times’ vice president of communications: “Our editors discussed the photo treatment for the front page and determined that two images were important to the story of the mass shooting in Monterey Park: one showing the aftermath outside the Star Ballroom Dance Studio, and the other showing the conclusion of the manhunt for the shooter. Our intent as a journalism organization is to convey the news that’s in the public’s interest. Our photo standards and editorial decisions carefully weigh the news value of photos depicting death. We believe the photo is an important piece of journalism that captures a critical moment in this tragedy.”

In this case, the Times made the right decision. It does capture how this chapter of the story ended.

Generally, news organizations do not run photos of people who are badly injured and/or dead. But it’s not unprecedented. 

Running graphic photos often has a newsworthy purpose. For example, a year ago, The Associated Press’ Evgeniy Maloletka took a startling photo of a pregnant Ukrainian woman badly injured and lying on a stretcher after a Russian bomb hit a maternity hospital. (The woman later died.)

Photographer Lynsey Addario took a sobering photo of several people lying dead in the street following a blast in another Russian attack in Ukraine.

Such photos showed the horrors and damage of war in a way words could not express.

Monday’s photo of the shooter in the Los Angeles Times might not have had the same impact as the war photos, but it was of news interest and was not so grotesque as to upset readers. The news value outweighed any arguments against the photo.

Here are some other notable pieces covering the shooting

Lester Holt’s powerful remarks

Lestor Holt, anchoring Monday’s “NBC Nightly News” from Monterey Park, California. (Courtesy: NBC News)

Here are the closing remarks from anchor Lester Holt on Monday’s “NBC Nightly News”:

Tonight a candlelight vigil will be held outside city hall to honor the victims of the deadly mass shooting here — the latest example of horrific gun violence now so familiar in America.

A new year, an old scourge. We woke up Sunday to what in the shorthand of mass murder has become “another one.” A familiar heartache as we absorbed the news with a collective and familiar weary sigh that comes from a place of worn-down resignation.

The same two questions always come to mind. How many? And why? Our need to understand, to find sense of, to classify the horror at hand, is overwhelming.

But even when we finally come to learn the likely motive — whether hate, vengeance or a disturbed mind — we are left where we started. Empty, frustrated and sad. No explanation can fill the void of loss and the helplessness these mass attacks burden us with, or give us hope there won’t be “another one.”

Pompeo’s comments on Jamal Khashoggi

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has a new book out and in it, he not only questions the credentials of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but he also takes issue with the media’s coverage of Khashoggi.

Khashoggi, who wrote for The Washington Post, was a critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and it’s believed Salman ordered Khashoggi’s murder in 2018.

NBC News’ Natasha Korecki, Phil McCausland and Jesse Rodriguez got a sneak peek at the book — “Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love,” which comes out today. In the book, Pompeo writes, “He didn’t deserve to die, but we need to be clear about who he was — and too many in the media were not.”

Pompeo, who served during the Trump administration, called Khashoggi an “activist” and said he was only a journalist “to the extent that I, and many other public figures are journalists. We sometimes get our writing published, but we also do other things.”

Pompeo, who also was the former CIA director under former President Donald Trump, added, “And as even the New York Times reported, Khashoggi was cozy with the terrorist-supporting Muslim Brotherhood.”

Khashoggi’s widow, Hanan Elatr Khashoggi, told NBC News, “Jamal Kashoggi is not part of the Muslim Brotherhood. I confirm it to you.”

She added, “Whatever he (Pompeo) mentions about my husband, he doesn’t know my husband. He should be silent and shut up the lies about my husband. It is such bad information and the wrong information. … This is not acceptable.”

A Sharpe (and sharp) apology

Former NFL player Shannon Sharpe, left, talks with Tee Morant, father of Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant, after an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. At halftime, Sharpe confronted Memphis Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks and center Steven Adams. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Hey, gotta give credit where credit is due. In Monday’s newsletter, I criticized Pro Football Hall of Famer and Fox Sports 1 personality Shannon Sharpe for his outrageous behavior at an NBA game Friday night in Los Angeles. While sitting in the first row of the Lakers-Memphis Grizzlies game, Sharpe got into a trash-talking exchange with several Grizzlies players. It nearly turned into a physical altercation with players and Sharpe being separated from one another. He also had words with the father of one of Memphis’ players.

Well, on Monday, Sharpe went on his Fox Sports 1 show “Undisputed” and gave a rather lengthy and full-throated apology. And it was a good apology. He said, “I’m sorry.” He didn’t make excuses. He didn’t pull the old, “Sorry to anyone who was offended” junk. He did take a tiny little shot at one of the Memphis players, but overall, the apology seemed sincere.

He apologized to everyone who deserved an apology: the Lakers, the Grizzlies, his family, the fans and his employer.

It was an apology that lasted more than three minutes and included Sharpe saying, “I take full responsibility for what transpired. … I was wrong.”

He later added, “I’m sorry. I apologize. I’m not perfect. I am not. And I’m never going to say that wasn’t Shannon Sharpe because that was me.”

I’m still stunned that the NBA or the Lakers aren’t going to punish what is essentially a spectator for causing such a ruckus, but at least Sharpe owned up to his behavior.

Vox layoffs

This happened last week, so I need to mention it here: Vox Media laid off 7% of its staff. Vox publishes news websites such as Vox, The Verge and New York magazine. In total, about 130 were laid off.

Vox chief executive Jim Bankoff told staff in a memo that the layoffs were “due to the challenging economic environment impacting our business and industry.”

In a statement, the Vox Media Union said, “We’re furious at the way the company has approached these layoffs, and are currently discussing how to best serve those who just lost their jobs.”

Defector’s Laura Wagner pointed out that “Vox Media Layoffs Wipe Out Most SB Nation Hockey, MLS Sites.” Wagner wrote, “The workers who run the SB Nation team sites are mostly independent contractors, meaning they make only small stipends for what can amount to a full-time job. Many of them have been doing the work of building fan communities for years for little or no money.”

More cuts

More grim media news as Spotify announced Monday that it was laying off 6% of its workforce. The music streaming and podcast company has about 9,800 employees, so the cuts are expected to eliminate about 600 positions.

In a statement, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said, “Like many other leaders, I hoped to sustain the strong tailwinds from the pandemic and believed that our broad global business and lower risk to the impact of a slowdown in ads would insulate us. In hindsight, I was too ambitious in investing ahead of our revenue growth. And for this reason, today, we are reducing our employee base by about 6% across the company. I take full accountability for the moves that got us here today.”

CNBC’s Ryan Browne has more about Spotify’s business situation.

A horrible attack

Fox News meteorologist Adam Klotz is recovering after being beat up by a group of teens on a New York City subway over the weekend. According to Klotz, he was on the subway after watching an NFL playoff game in a Manhattan bar late Saturday night. He said a group of seven or eight teens was harassing an older man when Klotz intervened. He said the teens then turned on him. The incident happened around 1:15 a.m. on Sunday morning.

Klotz told “Fox & Friends,” “I was like, whoa, you can’t do that. That’s not cool, and that’s all it took, and then I was the focus of all their attention.”

Klotz, 37 and a meteorologist at Fox News since 2017, suffered bruised ribs, black eyes and scrapes on his face.

According to the New York Post’s Joe Marino, Tina Moore and Jorge Fitz-Gibbon, citing sources, three teens (two 15-year-olds and a 17-year-old) were stopped by police after exiting the train. But, the Post reported, the three were released to their parents.

Wild rumor

Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos. (zz/Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx)

The New York Post’s Josh Kosman wrote Monday that there is “chatter” that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos would sell The Washington Post to buy the NFL’s Washington Commanders.

But a Washington Post spokesperson told the New York Post and others that the Washington Post is not up for sale. Mediaite’s Zachary Leeman reported that Bezos recently told senior staff at The Washington Post that he has no plans to sell the paper.

Embattled Commanders owner Daniel Snyder is believed to be considering offers to sell the team, but The Washington Post’s Liz Clarke, Mark Maske and Nicki Jhabvala reported a week ago that initial bids for the team did not include one from Bezos.

Interesting tweet of the day

Passed along without comment is this tweet from Fox News contributor Geraldo Rivera: “The Biden document ‘scandal’ is hyped hogwash. It is prominently featured in newscasts for 2 reasons: 1- Mainstream media desperate to show it is even-handed. They ravaged Trump for Mar-a-Lago cache, now they must obsess over Biden’s garage. 2-slow political news cycle.”

Clarification

In Monday’s newsletter, I wrote about The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and its story, “Strip club visit raises questions about fatal UGA crash.” I wrote that, because of the backlash of criticism by some on social media, AJC managing editor Leroy Chapman Jr. wrote a companion article called “Why we’re writing this story.”

To be clear, Chapman’s piece was not in response to reader reaction, but part of AJC’s contribution to the Trusting News initiative, and was posted simultaneously with the original story.

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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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