Covering the mass shooting on Lunar New Year

On Jan. 22, there was a mass shooting following a Lunar New Year celebration in Monterey Park, California, that killed 11 people and injured nine others. Less than 48 hours later, there was another mass shooting in Half Moon Bay, California, that killed seven people. As reporters focus on Monterey Park, a heavily Asian American community, and Half Moon Bay, a city that employs many migrant workers, Asian American Journalists Association reiterated its guidance on how to cover Asian American communities. The guidance includes an emphasis on double-checking names and pronunciations, avoiding assumptions and not relying on unverified sources. The SPJ Code of Ethics reminds journalists that neither speed nor format excuses inaccuracy. Especially when covering a community different from their own, it is important to make sure names are pronounced correctly, and if there is a mistake, it should be corrected. The Code also says to identify sources clearly. When it comes to mass shootings, especially involving a community of color, it’s easy to jump to conclusions and consider rumors as true when determining a motive. However, it is important to remember that doing so can spread misinformation. Also, focus on minimizing harm and showing compassion for those affected by your coverage. The Code says journalists should “balance the public’s need for information against potential harm or discomfort.” SPJ sends our condolences to the families and the community in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay.