Las Vegas Shooting: When Tragedy Hits Home

This past Saturday I had neighbors move into the vacant apartment next to me.  

Fast forward to this morning at 5:30 am and I'm woken by the loud blaring of the morning cable news coming through my open window.  Annoyed, I opened my eyes and sighed. Day one and they're already being annoying waking me up?

"We have breaking news coming to you this morning. Last night in Las Vegas, the deadliest shooting in modern history has happened," said the male announcer. My stomach dropped. What? Was I still dreaming? 

I sat up, wide-eyed and scared. Not my hometown, please, no. I started going through the list in my head of my friends and family still living there, praying that no one was taken while I slept. 

The alerts for those marking themselves as safe poured in as I opened Facebook. I am one of the lucky ones. I have been thanking inch of the universe for keeping my loved ones safe, especially those who had attended the event. 

The deadliest shooting in modern history happened in my hometown. I don't like that sentence, but for now, it is fact.

Videos of stunned concert attendees during and after the shooting have already flooded onto the internet. No time to process, cameras shoved in their shocked faces, questions overloading them as they try to describe what happened.

So far, is no one is calling him a terrorist. A white, 64 year old man killed over 50 people and injured an additional 400. One of the first things I read was that, "We do not know his belief system at this time," a statement from Sherriff Joe Lombardo.  The second was how hotels on the strip lost value in their stock. 

Is this a joke? This tragedy had impacted thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people and we are taking time to report on the stock of Mandalay dropping? We are concerned about what his religious beliefs might have been?

As a holder of a journalism degree, these kinds of articles and videos are hard for me to watch. I feel like our need for news all the time has changed the quality of the information we get. Often when tragedy happens, we turn on the news and wait. We watch the same 30 minutes of footage for hours.

I was in Italy when the Paris bombings happened. Everyone was in a panic. The news covered as much as they could, but then a funny thing happened. When there was no new information, they stopped and moved on. Instead of creating an atmosphere of suspense and tension, they released the intensity of the situation by not reporting on it when there was no new information to be given.

It stopped the pit in my stomach from growing. It gave me faith in their reporting. It extinguished the fear of the situation. By not reporting when they didn’t have any more information, it allowed those watching to do their own research or welcome the room to breathe when the segment ended.

More and more information will be released as the hours march on. But no amount of information in the world will ever make those deaths ok. No volume of videos or articles will help the families and friends of those who died. All we can do is sit and hold our loved ones a little tighter.

Every new alert of one more person marking themselves as safe and I send up a thank you and gratitude for their safety. I still feel a little stunned. I may not have been there last night, but in my heart, Vegas will always be home.

Brooke JohnstonComment