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What Were The Decisions Behind The Post's Mass Shooting Article?

On Thursday, the Washington Post published an article called “Terror on Repeat,” that displayed mass shootings in a way no other mainstream news organization has, Tom Jones wrote for Poynter in an opinion article. The Post piece looks back at 11 mass shootings in which the weapon used was an AR-15, and contains many images and videos that are extremely graphic and some may find disturbing. The Post’s project includes the shootings at a concert in Las Vegas, a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and a synagogue in Pittsburgh. To have the most impact, the Post told the story through photos, videos and the words of those who have survived these horrific shootings. For example, there are images of schoolrooms at Robb Elementary in Uvalde moments after dead children were removed and videos that include the cries of students inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, as gunshots are heard.

On Wednesday, Washington Post executive editor Sally Buzbee said, “We know it’s very sensitive material and very disturbing and we know it will be disturbing to people," but emphasized that the Post was “not aiming for the shock value.” However, she said, “News organizations rarely publish extremely graphic content around these things. And we just felt that there was a lack of understanding of what actually happens in these shootings. We’re really just trying to say what the destructive power is and what these (weapons) actually do. I think our main hope is people just get a more factual, realistic view of what happens in these highly destructive mass shootings.”


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