Covering the shooting in your own back yard

October 29, 2018
Category: Newsletters

The mayor lives five blocks away. He said Fred Rogers, of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," had lived three blocks away. David Shribman, the executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, lives three blocks away.

Mayor Bill Peduto said his police had no idea there was a man with an AR-15 and three handguns with such hatred toward Jews and fear of immigrants that he would enter a synagogue and kill 11 people. Among the fallen: two developmentally disabled brothers, an 88-year-old retired accountant who showed up in case he was needed to lead services and a 97-year-old woman taken these days by her daughter, who escaped with a bullet wound in her arm.

A Holocaust survivor, who said saboteurs stopped his train to Auschwitz during World War II, missed Saturday's slaughter only because he pulled into his nearby handicapped parking spot four minutes late.

"Because this was our neighborhood, caught in the crossfire of the strains of the global village, and for once — sadly, so very sadly — the hurt was ours, and the victims were ours, and the need to heal is ours," wrote the Post-Gazette's Shribman. The spotlight shone here, he wrote, and "we know, given the tempo of tragedy in these times that are ours, that the title won’t be ours for long."

"Unless we see courageous action, the Squirrel Hill massacre will be just another on the list, albeit one with an asterisk for me," agreed David Michael Slater, who grew up across the street from the synagogue, in an first-person essay for the AP. "We’re a ruptured and bleeding nation in a cage of our own making. I only wish I had the magic key to unlock our hardening hearts."

Slater concluded with Mr. Rogers' words: "Won’t you be my neighbor?"

A look at the suspected gunman's social past found many clues to violent views and raised this question, asked by Amanda Carpenter on CNN: Why are hate-mongers allowed to spew and rile themselves up for violence on social media? In this case, she may have been referring to Gab, the social network preferred by neo-Nazis and the sort who get bounced from other social sites. (See more below.)

There's a lot to process from the weekend attack in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood. Here are a few highlights:

— The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette dove into Gab in the wake of the shooting, finding it "reeling, defiant." 

— Snapshots of the fallen. The accused shooter faces 29 criminal counts, including hate crimes and 11 counts of murder.

— A survivor's tale: He thought it was falling furniture.

— White House: Don't link Pittsburgh killing to our rhetoric.

— Mayor Peduto: President Trump has the wrong idea with bolstering synagogue security as a response. "The approach that we need to be looking at is how we take the guns, which is the common denominator of every mass shooting in America, out of the hands of those who are looking to express hatred through murder,” Peduto said.

— Stronger Than Hate: After the synagogue slaughter, Tim Hindes came up with a new version of the Pittsburgh Steelers logo to show support. He shared it to Facebook. Soon, it circulated worldwide. Every share, he said, is a victory for tolerance.

— The Jewish resettlement agency slandered by the arrested gunman, Robert Bowers, has brought in families of many faiths over its 130-plus years, including those of novelist Gary Shteyngart, Google co-founder Sergey Brin and WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum. "They bought our airline tickets," from the Soviet Union in 1980, said "CBS This Morning" co-host Bianna Golodryga, who was 18 months old at the time.

Quick hits

GUN-STORE AD ATOP SYNAGOGUE SLAUGHTER STORY: The Providence Journal apologized for the placement of a gun-store ad atop its Pittsburgh mass shooting story. “The timing of the front page advertising stick-on is very unfortunate given the horrible news event," Janet Hasson, regional vice president and publisher of the paper, said in a statement. (h/t Jill Geisler)

TOO MANY MASS SHOOTINGS: The Houston Chronicle had intended to have a front page story Sunday marking nearly a year after a gunman killed 26 people and wounded 20 in a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. The Pittsburgh shooting took that spot, editor Nancy Barnes tweeted

FACEBOOK MISCHIEF: The social network deleted posts from readers who wanted to share a New York Times article on famine in Yemen, which threatens 13 million people. Why? Facebook initially said a photo of a severely malnourished girl violated its terms of service; after public outrage, the social network restored the posts.

WHY RUN THAT IMAGE ON YEMEN?: The NYT explained why it choose to run Tyler Hicks’ jarring photos from Yemen, which were more unsettling and jarring that it customarily allows. What is happening in Yemen is no natural disaster; the famine, disease and ruined lives are the decision of neighboring leaders waging war and enforcing an embargo against Yemen. Of the photos, the NYT wrote: “They are brutal. But they are also brutally honest. They reveal the horror that is Yemen today. You may choose not to look at them. But we thought you should be the ones to decide.”

SLAIN: A radio host and engineer in a news truck was fatally shot by gunmen in Mexico's Guerrero state. Gabriel Soriano was 40, wrote Teresa Mioli for the UT Knight Center’s Journalism in the Americas blog.

MILO: Instagram deleted a post from Milo Yiannopoulos praising the recent mail bombs sent to prominent Democratic officials and donors, The Daily Beast’s Will Sommer reported.

NO MORE: Caitlyn Jenner renounced President Trump after the administration’s consideration to remove legal protection for transgender people. “I must learn from my mistakes and move forward,” Jenner said.

HAHA: Czech president “joked” about inviting members of the press to a banquet — at the Saudi Embassy. The group Reporters Without Borders demanded an apology and added: “It is sickening to see him take his cynicism to this level.” Last year, the same president said journalists should be liquidated because there are too many of them. He also greeted journalists at a press conference with a dummy Kalashnikov.

LEAVING McCLATCHY: Tim Grieve, vice president of news for McClatchy, said he’ll step down after the midterm elections. Grieve said he’ll be starting a new venture in the media space. CEO Craig Forman will supervise the newspaper company’s four regional editors after Grieve’s departure, with the assistance of Andrew Pergam, vice president of video and new ventures. Pergam will head real-time news, the reinvention team and the news desks.

HIRED: Yara Bayoumy of Reuters is moving to become national security editor of The Atlantic. Bayoumy worked on the security team at Reuters after more than a decade for the news service, including a stint in Yemen.

TEEN POWER: A 14-year-old cartoonist from Manhattan may have prompted the Scholastic Art and Writing Contest to alter terms so winners could retain the copyright to their work. Sasha Matthews sent a tweet to the organization and decided to withhold her entry after seeing this restrictive wording. A reply said the tweet generated a lot of discussion — and now the terms have been changed. “I was hopeful that they would do something about it, I didn’t really think that they would but they did,” Matthews told the West Side Rag’s Lisa Kava. “And I’m very happy.”


Want to get this briefing in your inbox every weekday morning? Sign up here.

Got a tip or a link? Please email me at or reach me @dabeard.

Have a good Monday. See you tomorrow.