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It was a serious incident on Feb. 2 in Hood River as law enforcement worked to carefully keep an active shooter from harming himself or others. Tragedy impacts many and as a news provider, Columbia Gorge News worked to help keep the community informed of the situation on our website and our social media feeds.
We are the community newspaper of record for the Gorge, in print and online, and we take this role seriously as we work to serve our community. We are here to gather the news and keep you up-to-date on everything local.
An emergency situation like this is top priority. Information was gathered, photos from the public and reporters obtained and evaluated, official statements monitored in addition to emergency radio traffic.
One photo, taken to show the outer perimeter of the incident was posted immediately, with a short, official description of the incident. A second photograph, taken by a citizen sheltering in place within police lines, was held until it became clear initial reports of an “active shooter” in the vicinity were incorrect, and the incident centered on a man barricaded in a nearby home.
Some readers objected to the posting of the photographs, fearing such photographs were endangering officers involved in the incident.
They did not.
We are not here to interfere with law enforcement or emergency responders. We stay out of the way, and do our best to inform our community in real time. As journalists we have no special access — we do not cross police lines. We took general photos of the incident and posted these photos to show the importance of the situation and hopefully keep community members from investigating the scene themselves.
We are careful about what we post. We received some photos from our readers that we chose not to post to avoid compromising the ability of law enforcement as they did their job. Even a great news photograph must be considered before posting.
Some might think employees of a news organization “live” for the action, but everyone at Columbia Gorge News takes these situations very seriously. Such incidents are not an easy part of our job. It is stressful and exhausting. One of my reporters described being sick to their stomach over the stress of the incident.
Posting updates and keeping everyone informed is challenging.
Comments on social media are noted, but difficult to challenge in real time. There is little time to monitor conversations.
We are thankful to those supporters who helped do this for us.
In the recent incident, the Columbia Gorge News Hood River Facebook page alone received 39,848 Facebook visits in less than four hours, and had 527 shares and 604 comments. (This does not include The Dalles Chronicle and White Salmon Enterprise Facebook pages, which are tracked separately). We also had news organizations from outside the Gorge contacting us for photos and updates. We were glad to help when we could.
The law enforcement and emergency responders involved in bringing the situation to rest on Thursday deserve a big “Thank you” from all of us. They safely worked through a very dangerous situation to avoid tragedy.