June 12, 2016

ORLANDO, Fla. — A text woke Charles Minshew up early Sunday morning.

“Horrible news out of Orlando,” a friend from grad school texted at 6:46 a.m.

Minshew, a multimedia artist at the Orlando Sentinel, was half asleep. Maybe his friend was talking about the Friday shooting of singer Christina Grimmie, he thought.

He looked online.

“Oh God,” he responded 10 minutes later. “I just saw this.”

He started shaking while he was getting ready. And he thought: This can not be happening again.

Four years ago, Minshew was an intern at The Denver Post. Then, he helped make an interactive timeline of the Aurora theater shooting. On Sunday, he started working from home on a timeline for the Orlando nightclub shooting.

“This is not a day I thought I would live twice,” he said Sunday night at the Sentinel, where TV coverage, clacking keyboards and conversation hummed in the newsroom.

Minshew’s one of many staffers pulling a Sunday shift at the Orlando Sentinel on the day a gunman entered a gay nightclub and killed 50 people. It’s the worst mass shooting in American history, one that’s drawn a legion of cable and network news correspondents to a Central Florida city better known as a vacation destination.

It’s also the second high-profile shooting this weekend for the Sentinel, which on Friday covered the murder of Grimmie, a former contestant from “The Voice” who was fatally shot as she was signing autographs. The Sentinel has emerged as an early leader in coverage of the shootings, earning recognition and citations from journalists working at national media outlets.

Minshew spent the day building the timeline and adding details when he got them. He’s gotten messages from people he worked with in Denver making sure he’s OK. And he’s watched the newsroom fill up with journalists.

“I’m just amazed at how everyone’s still going right now,” he said. “You can really tell it’s a newsroom that cares about the community.”

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.

Earlier today, he spoke with a reporter who was having a hard time processing what happened.

It’s OK to be upset, he told her. It’s OK to take off your hat as a reporter and feel emotions. It’s OK to go home and cry. The journalists at the Sentinel are members of the community, just like everyone else, he said.

“I just can’t think of any way you disconnect your emotions from something as terrible as this.”

Four years later, Minshew still remembers the day the Aurora shooting happened very clearly. He’s pretty sure this day will stay just as clear.

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Kristen Hare teaches local journalists the critical skills they need to serve and cover their communities as Poynter's local news faculty member. Before joining faculty…
Kristen Hare

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