By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Following the shootings, two Maine papers drop paywall while the Globe goes all-in

The Sun Journal of Lewiston, Maine, and the Portland Press Herald have dropped their paywall for coverage of the mass shootings in Lewiston on Wednesday night, which claimed what’s now reported to be 18 lives. The two papers, which are owned by the same nonprofit trust, have also published a sensitive story about some of the victims — six at the moment, with, sadly, more to come.

Meanwhile, The Boston Globe is treating this as a local story, going all-in with multiple reports. Today’s print edition includes four front-page stories, ranging from a round-up of what we know so far to a story on Maine’s gun laws. There are two opinion pieces and four more articles in the metro section covering topics such as the fear experienced at nearby Bates College and how teachers should discuss mass shootings with their students. The Globe is also running updates on its homepage.

For journalists, this is difficult, harrowing work. I’ve covered some emotionally upsetting stories, but never anything remotely like this. While we focus on the suffering of the victims, think about the reporters, too. Like first responders, journalists are performing a vital role in keeping the public informed about an ongoing tragedy.

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  1. Lex

    Journalists, particularly those on the public-safety beat, are supposed to become inured to the death and suffering they see. In real life, the truth is a little different. Journalists develop all sorts of coping mechanisms, some healthier than others, and PTSD among them is a real thing. The editors who supervise those reporters need to be aware of this and, one hopes, be in a position to provide support or refer their reporters to those who can. Unfortunately, in the age of vulture-capitalism ownership of news outlets, employee-assistance programs are just one of many things that have gone by the boards.

  2. Deborah Sirotkin Butler

    Bob, I hear you. 2nd hand trauma is real. I experience it in my work also

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