Editor stands by decision to release Uvalde shooting video

Southwest

In this photo from surveillance video provided by the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District via the Austin American-Statesman, authorities stage in a hallway as they respond to the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Tuesday, May 24, 2022. (Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

(NewsNation) — The editor of the Austin American-Statesman is standing by his news organization’s decision to release a video showing the moment a gunman entered Robb Elementary School and opened fire on children in Uvalde, Texas, last month.

But there’s a chance you haven’t heard about the editor’s response. That’s because 50% percent of news outlets that reported on this issue lean to the right, according to NewsNation’s partner Ground News, which monitors coverage based on media bias. Only one left-leaning media outlet reported on the editor’s justification, according to Ground News’ Blindspot report.

The surveillance video, which the newspaper obtained through a public records request in conjunction with KVUE, a local TV outlet, is 82 minutes long and shows the mass shooter entering the school before firing into the classroom.

But the majority of the footage, nearly 77 minutes worth, shows dozens of heavily armed law enforcement officers congregating in the hallway as they wait to breach the classroom.

“We have to bear witness to history, and transparency with unrelenting reporting is a way to bring change,” executive editor Manny Garcia wrote in a column explaining the choice on Tuesday.

Garcia said the decision to publish the video came after “long and thoughtful discussions” and was intended to “bring to light what happened at Robb Elementary.”

The video was edited to remove the sound of children screaming, which the two news organizations considered “too graphic,” wrote Garcia. Although the sound of gunfire can be heard throughout.

Police in Uvalde have been widely criticized by local leaders and families of the victims for the amount of time it took to bring down the shooter. That response is now the subject of a federal investigation.

Some have condemned the news organizations for publishing the video before families of the victims had an opportunity to view it.

Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin blasted the release, calling it “one of the most chicken things” he’d ever seen.

“This was wrong to do it this way. The video needed to be released but the families should’ve got to see it first,” McLaughlin said at a city council meeting earlier this week.

May Mailman, a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Law Center, also disagreed with the release and rejected the idea that it helped advance the public’s understanding of what happened that day.

“We already knew that there was this long delay, we already knew that (police) didn’t go in when they could, we already knew they were sort of sitting on their hands,” Mailman told Dan Abram’s Live. “The question the families want to know is, ‘why?’”

Edward Wasserman, a journalism professor at the University of California, Berkeley, said the victims’ parents should have been consulted prior to the release but agreed with the decision to publish the video.

“We can beat up the media for doing their job when we should be focused on the police for not doing their job,” said Wasserman.

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw, who has been critical of the police response that day, said he was “deeply disappointed” the video was released before the families had had an opportunity to view it.

Families of the victims killed were scheduled to see the footage for the first time Sunday, and were surprised to see it had been published by the media just days earlier.

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