‘They keep threatening to arrest us.’ The obstacles facing local news in Uvalde
San Antonio Express-News editor Nora Lopez talks about her newsroom's struggle against authorities to tell the stories of Uvalde
By: Amaris Castillo
June 10, 2022
By now, many who have been following this story know that the official narrative of the tragedy that left 19 students and two teachers dead has shifted, with early accounts being amended or retracted.
The San Antonio Express-News on Thursday published a timeline detailing the series of mistakes and deviations from original reports that officials made following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The New York Times also provided a clearer picture of the police response, including that officers delayed confronting the gunman for more than an hour, even though supervisors at the scene had been told that some trapped with him in two classrooms needed medical treatment.
Over the past two weeks, Nora Lopez, executive editor of the Express-News, has led her staff in covering this story. The job has been made more difficult, she said, by the obstacles facing her reporters and photographers. Visiting law enforcement officials and bikers obstructed reporters’ abilities to cover the funerals of victims.
“In addition to the trauma of covering such an event, then to have to deal with all this harassment and attempts to stop us from reporting this story has been really disconcerting,” Lopez said.
The Express-News and the Houston Chronicle (which are both owned by Hearst) sent a whole team of reporters and photographers to Uvalde after the shooting. But now she said they’ve scaled back to just one reporter and one photographer. She remains steadfast in a commitment to telling the stories of families still reeling from their loss.
On Tuesday, Lopez spoke with Poynter about the work to continue covering the story of the Uvalde shooting victims and their families, and the obstacles journalists are facing in doing so.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.