On Sunday, in Gilroy, California, a city of around 58,000 people southeast of San Jose, a gunman cut through the fence of a local garlic festival and opened fire. The shooter killed Trevor Irby, who was 25 years old; Keyla Salazar, who was 13; and Stephen Romero, who was six, before police shot him dead. Officers responded within a minute, but—as so often happens in America—incalculable damage had been done. Last night, hundreds of people gathered outside Gilroy’s city hall to commemorate the victims. Roland Velasco, the city’s mayor, addressed the crowd. “We cannot let the bastard that did this tear us down,” he said.
In the aftermath of such horrors, the media’s behavior has become grimly familiar: national news outlets who would not normally cover a place descend on it en masse to document the horror. That can be overwhelming for grieving communities and the journalists who call them home. Following the Gilroy shooting, Robert Eliason, a photographer for local outlets including the Gilroy Dispatch, went to cover a press briefing in a college parking lot. “It was like walking on to a movie set,” Eliason wrote on Facebook afterward. “There were media vans everywhere, video cameras on tripods, bright lighting panels, reporters talking to victims, reporters checking in to their home stations, reporters talking to no-one and just standing there blankly.”
The experience, Eliason continued, was surreal. “I’m press but I am not really press. I am the guy who goes out
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