Last Saturday morning, Austin Texas was struck by a deadly mass shooting that wounded 14 people, leaving 2 victims in a critical state – one of which, Douglas Kantor, 25, did not survive his injuries. The 6th Street shooting is one of many in an upward trajectory of widespread, urban attacks since last year. What is perhaps more disturbing, however, is one Austin newspaper’s complacency in the carnage.
People come under attack, 13 are injured, 1 is killed, and the Austin American Statesman prioritizes sensibilities over public safety. The editor’s note inserted into the story reads,
“The American-Statesman is not including the description as it is too vague at this time to be useful in identifying the shooter and such publication could be harmful in perpetuating stereotypes. If more detailed information is released, we will update our reporting.”
Thankfully, there are real journalists willing to do what the Austin American Statesman is not.
One suspect in the shooting is in custody. The second suspect, whose description was retroactively omitted by the Austin American Statesman, is still at large. The Austin American Statesman had initially included the suspect’s description, a “black male, with dreadlocks, wearing a black shirt and a skinny build”, in their story. This was retracted.
This supposed commitment to combating harmful racial stereotypes stands in stark contrast, as some have pointed out, to a case in 2018. A bombing suspect was on the loose, and the Statesman was quick to inform its readers of the usual, prototypical characteristics of such perpetrators. No self-righteous concern of mistaken identity or mischaracterization in the Austin American Statesman’s mission statement then, apparently.
The Austin American Statesman is, in essence, giving aid and comfort to a suspect in a mass shooting. A decision from the top came down at this newspaper to retract information from the police meant to help catch a violent criminal (likely armed). Their commitment to political correctness is clearly stronger than that of their desire to maintain a safe community for its readers or a well-informed public that could aid in the capture of the suspect.