Shared by Steven Zimmerman
Today has become a defining point in my life. As a man walked through an El Paso Walmart, taking the lives of twenty people and injuring over two dozen more, I’ve realized I simply cannot chase after these kinds of stories any longer. I’ll explain.
When I arrived at Cielo Vista Mall, and began speaking with other reporters and photographers I noticed their actions and how they thrusted for that one perfect witness to explain it all to the masses who want blood and violence. Everyone, if they were in the Walmart or not were approached. “What did you see,” asked some reporters. “Did you see the gunman,” asked others. It went on from there.
Watching the other reporters work, I noticed that not even one of them stopped and asked if the people were okay or if they needed to talk with anyone other than a reporter. It broke my heart.
So far, twenty people have lost their lives. Families have been broken. Parents and children will never come home, and all we cared about was getting a damn quote.
As I was walking to the media section, I stopped and spoke with every officer I encountered, ever first responder, every civilian standing on a sidewalk to see if they were okay, if they needed anything. Am I the only one that does this? I understand that we have a job, a function to deliver facts to the world at large, but we are also human.
We need to stop, step back, and not think about the damn story for a moment and think about people, lives, the lasting impact this will have on El Paso. The lasting impact this will have on the people that were in the Walmart, the witnesses, the families. What about them? Is a soundbite for the next news break more important than how that person is feeling?
I’ve been doing this for a very long time. I have seen the aftermath of shootings, of lives and families torn apart. I have seen police officers take a suspect down, shoot them, and seen how that has affected that officer and his family. I’ve seen it all- I’ve covered over 6k acts of violence, and I am done.
Over the next week, I will be following up on a few points from today’s events, and then I am stepping back from this kind of news. I can’t take it any longer; I can’t stomach it anymore. From here I’ll only be focusing on the positive, on what makes a lasting change, on hope.
I want to share our hope.