Just about every conversation I’ve had this past week with family, friends or customers quickly gravitated to reports of the shooting at Cobb Theatres/Grove 16 & CineBistro in Wesley Chapel.
And I bet it was the same with you.
Most of us here in Pasco and north Hillsborough go to movies at The Grove and can easily visualize the setting. We know the layout — theaters one through eight are to the left, and nine through 16 are to the right. We’ve eaten popcorn from the same popper that made the snack that is said to have escalated an encounter between two patrons into the deadly scene.
And if you’re like me, the thought crossed your mind that you could have been in the theater when it happened. You too may have been bothered at one time or another by someone close by using their cell phone in blatant disregard for the rules and for others.
There’s little I can add to the discussion of what happened and why, and how this tragedy could have been prevented if only some common sense had prevailed. We all feel horrible that this shooting happened in our community, and because it did, it feels personal and haunting.
You may have noticed that we do not write about the shooting anywhere else in this week’s paper. And you may wonder why that is. How could your local weekly newspaper ignore such a huge news event that has received national and international coverage?
Here’s why. It is not our role to regurgitate news that already has been covered 24/7 by every news organization out there. Within 48 hours of the shooting, you had all the reporting and analysis you’d ever want or need.
Sometimes we do write about state or national news originating in our circulation area if we can localize the story with information specific for our readers. An example is our story about the $590 million Powerball ticket that was sold to an elderly Zephyrhills resident last May.
Before the winner came forward, B.C. Manion wrote about problems that often arise from such instantaneous wealth, interviewing a local psychologist, financial planner and attorney. This story worked in our format because B.C. talked to experts who also are our neighbors.
And because winning the lottery is a fantasy we all share, B.C.’s story gave us helpful suggestions we could all dream about using someday.
My staff and I talked about to how best to cover the Wesley Chapel shooting in today’s paper, a week and a half after it happened. And we decided there really was no local angle that was not already covered by Tampa’s many news outlets in print, broadcast, cable and digital. In fact, we thought some of the stories pursued seemed forced, and we questioned their validity and the amount of attention they received.
So instead of a story, we thought this column was the best way to acknowledge the shooting and to let you know why it is not on our front page this week.
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