by Jonathan Kaufman
Dear Answer Page: I thought it was against the Law of Journalism to run a story on a gunman who wasn’t described as a disaffected loner. Yet here I’m seeing all this coverage of a “popular,” “freshman homecoming prince.” What gives? Signed, Perplexed.
Dear Perplexed: News writing is done under ever-tighter deadlines, so we must make allowance for omissions. Furthermore, the Law of Journalism doesn’t say (despite many misperceptions) that a gunman must be described as a disaffected loner, or as a quiet person whom neighbors said always kept to himself. Sometimes the neighbors won’t answer the phone, or the reporter didn’t have enough time to ask enough people who may or may not have known the gunman. What the law does say is: “Just because someone’s dead is no reason not to psychoanalyze him.”
“I have no idea what his motive was because yesterday at football practice, he was all fine, talking …. having a good time,” he said. “And then today, just horrible. I don’t know what went through his head or what caused him to do it.”
By all accounts, Fryberg was a popular student. Just a week ago, he had been named as the high school’s freshman homecoming prince, according to a YouTube video of the ceremony and accounts provided by students to CNN.
Fryberg’s multiple social media accounts depict him frequently hunting and using rifles. Those accounts say he was a Native American and a member of the Tulalip tribe.
Luton could not confirm reports that Fryberg had been bullied. But two weeks ago, according to Luton, Fryberg got into a fight after somebody said “something racist” to him.