Friday, Jan. 7, was wildly different than Saturday, Jan. 8, for me—and pretty much everyone else in Southern Arizona.
On Friday, we had a going-away party for a co-worker. I also wrote up some blog posts, and then I went home.
On Saturday, I was getting ready to go to a birthday party with my family when a friend called to tell me that Gabrielle Giffords and many others had been shot.
From there, it was a long day of doing research on the Internet, watching television, talking on the phone and listening to the radio, trying to piece together whatever information I could find for our website, Facebook and Twitter. At first, there wasn't enough information to really know what was happening ... and before I knew it, there was almost too much to process and evaluate. For example, what sites and posts belonged to Jared Loughner, and which were quickly generated hoaxes?
By luck, the Tucson Weekly was among the first media sources to post links to Loughner's odd YouTube videos, and as of this writing, the piece I wrote about what I learned (or, rather, didn't learn) from his trail of Internet postings is still one of the first Google results for "Jared Loughner."
It's a surreal and sad time to be a Tucsonan.
At some point, the national news anchors will go back to New York, and less-terrifying stories will return to the spotlight. But right now, that day seems a long way off.
We had quite a bit on The Range before the horrors of Saturday morning (including a wildly silly post showing Montreal school children trying to decipher '80s-era electronic items), but clearly what dominated was coverage of the shootings at Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' Congress on Your Corner event.
At first, we detailed the news as it unfolded, and included reaction from Congressman Raúl Grijalva and state Rep. Daniel Patterson; we also delivered updates from the University Medical Center and Pima County Sheriff's Office press conferences. Later, we shared the news that 22-year-old Jared Loughner was in custody; and detailed comments left on MySpace by Loughner.
We tried to make sense of Loughner's YouTube videos; announced that there would be a vigil at the Rialto; and shared lots of photos—from the day's press conferences, places where Tucsonans were grieving, and the scene itself.
We announced that the Red Cross needed extra blood; shared a statement from Mark Kelly (Giffords' husband); tried to honor the day's heroes; and looked at the document detailing the charges against Loughner.
After Sheriff Clarence Dupnik criticized the nasty political climate in Arizona, we posted a response from local radio talk-show-host Jon Justice. We reported where Loughner reportedly bought the gun; we also showed his yearbook photo, a photo of him from the Arizona Festival of Books, and, eventually, his mug shot.
We shared support resources for those having trouble with the weekend's events. We received a lot of comments from those looking for more information; those wanting to understand why this happened; those who wanted to argue about Dupnik's comments; and those wishing to mourn the people who died.
Most unfortunately, we had to announce the names of those who died: John M. Roll, Christina Taylor Green, Gabe Zimmerman, Phyllis Schneck, Dorwin Stoddard and Dorothy Morris.
"I really hope she's all right. I can never believe it when people just decide to shoot another human like that."
—Facebook commenter Christina Bischoff, one of the first people to comment on our page on the news of the shooting.
We had Tucson Weekly TV video clips ready to go before Saturday's shootings, but they didn't seem appropriate to post this week. Next week, hopefully, regular programming will return.
We had photographers and videographers all over town trying to capture the state of the city in the aftermath, and we've turned those photos and videos into packages that examine what happened, and how the community reacted. We have footage from the last-minute event at the Rialto, a gathering at University Medical Center, a vigil at Giffords' midtown office and the multiple press conferences.