CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin on what it’s like to be on the air when news of yet another mass shooting breaks:
I know exactly how the unwritten script is going to go next: behind the scenes my team is scrambling to get a law enforcement analyst up live with me to explain (yet again) what’s happening at the shooting scene as this is all unfolding.
Secure the perimeter, get bystanders to safety, locate the shooter… or shooters. And then I find myself pivoting back and forth between guests, eyewitnesses, repeating the pieces of information police are releasing publicly and parsing their words: “heavily armed”; “bodies”; “suspicious package”; “they.”
Media sites always spotlight what time each channel broke the news. Officials spell their first and last names at news conferences. Hospitals start to alert how many patients they’re taking in. Schools go on lockdown. But it’s always too early to know the answer to the most important question — the question that nags at me as I go home at night: Why?
I know we journalists have a reputation for being cynics. We do. It’s our job to question — everything. But I will also share this: I’ll never forget coming home after covering Sandy Hook. Seeing the faces of family members. The firefighters who could never unsee the unthinkable. Those tiny caskets. I came home, sat in my dark apartment because I didn’t even bother to turn the lights on, and wept.