Editorial: Aurora chief's words remind us all not to aggrandize mass killers
Second in a series
"It's been roughly 96 hours since a disgruntled employee who was being terminated killed five people and shot five police officers at the Henry Pratt factory. I said his name one time for the media, and I will never let it cross my lips again."
Aurora Police chief Kristen Ziman posted this and much more on social media Tuesday in the wake of the mass shooting last Friday at the Henry Pratt manufacturing warehouse.
We applaud Ziman and her officers for a great many things, but we wanted to single out this one tiny piece of her message for now in the hope that others heed it.
We've published stories about more mass shootings than we care to think of. We remember Sandy Hook, Parkland, Northern Illinois University, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Las Vegas.
The list, unfortunately, goes on. But those of us who've worked here for 30 or 40 years or more cannot recall the name of the perpetrators of these crimes, save for the woman who walked into Hubbard Woods Elementary School in Winnetka with three guns in 1988. But that's because hers was the first school shooting we'd experienced. We published her name countless times back then because school shootings were so rare we didn't yet appreciate how that notoriety feeds the psyche of those who might perpetrate such horrible acts.
We'll never let her name cross our lips again.
We've mentioned before that it is standard operating policy here to mention a mass shooter once but then avoid doing so again even in the story that details his sordid past.
If your only source of news was the Daily Herald, you would have no idea what he looked like. We ran no photo of him.
Because some news service coverage is posted automatically to dailyherald.com, we may not catch every reference to him, but if we find one we eliminate it.
We've stuck to this policy for years.
While some news outlets salivate with every detail about the killer, we focus on telling the stories of those whose lives the killer cut short -- people who deserve to be remembered.
We cover the stories of those who rushed in to be of help. We cover the grieving process. We try to root out systemic problems -- about why this killer had access to a gun.
We look at how human resources professionals are reacting to what happened for their own work places.
We look for light amid the darkness.
We have no desire to make the shooter famous, whether that was his intention or not.
It's not worth the clicks.
We'll never let his name cross our lips again.