Tuesday, December 23, 2014

What you DON'T want for X-mas: Santa shooting at you

Posted By on Tue, Dec 23, 2014 at 12:50 PM

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It was another bloody few days in Detroit, especially with the deaths of young people in the Highland Park area and the east side. There's an old adage in reporting on deaths and shootings, dictating that journalists aren't supposed to say that the events are tragic, they're supposed to let the witnesses and readers say the events were tragic. It often puts journalists in a strange position of appearing to be heartless, but the idea is that your readers can judge for themselves if an event is tragic, and it diminishes the power of the story to declare it a tragedy.

But what about when a shooting is, well, kind of funny? Some readers might say that about at least one of the last few days' instances of carnage: A man who shot two while dressed as Santa Claus. It would be wrong to say the shooting was funny, but what if you included just enough details to allow the typical reader one belly laugh? In the local CBS piece online, there are some details that might strike some as amusing, describing the gunman as "festively dressed," and ran with a quote from a police officer that "Santa felt maybe that they were going to get a weapon."

It's a tough call. Is it in poor taste? Or are we simply so inundated with shootings and bloodshed in Detroit that we're pleased to get a few laughs with it once in a while?


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