“We’ve had a lot of letters to the editor that we can’t print because they’re that over the line. So we’re just going to walk the middle line until there’s a preponderance of evidence. If you called it an act of terrorism, around here, maybe 75 percent of people would agree, but 25 percent would say ‘Where are you getting that definition?’”

Semantics

“Does this make it any worse if he was a “terrorist” or just an unstable murderer? Either way the folks are dead and [the Army] needs to revisit their policies and screenings whether he was a terrorist or not. Labeling him one thing or another doesn’t change the situation.”

News Judgment

“The day this happened, I was on the phone to Fox News. They didn’t have their people here yet. Our police reporter was on the scene of the shooting. He told us that the shooter had an Arabic-sounding last name. I had that info about an hour before it was picked up by MSNBC, Fox or anybody else and I didn’t use it. I had three different interviews with television news, I didn’t mention it. Why fan the flames? We had one source, and it doesn’t really add to the conversation. When you first come out with something and don’t have all the facts, to just throw it out there, that’s just incendiary, and no one needs that. That’s where we are with the terrorist thing.”

Sticks and Stones

“Words have impact and we have to worry that if you put something out there that may be your view, but there are no criteria established—all you’re doing is stirring the pot. There are a lot of veterans around here who are going to get mad at us for not using the terrorism word, but the facts are out there and you can make your own judgment—and people are.”

Alexandra Fenwick is an assistant editor at CJR.