By Dan Kennedy
Shortly after the school shootings in Uvalde, Texas, I checked in to see what local newspapers were reporting. The San Antonio Express-News, a Hearst paper, seemed to be doing a thorough job, but its strict paywall meant that I couldn’t read anything. Then I discovered there was a paper in Uvalde — the Leader-News. But at that early stage there was no coverage of the shootings, so I moved on.
In the days since the shootings, the twice-weekly Leader-News has emerged as a symbol of a community’s suffering. An all-black front page garnered quite a bit of attention. And a sensitive, detailed story in The New Yorker by Rachel Monroe brought us into the lives of the staff members. We learn that Kimberly Rubio, the reporter whose daughter, Lexi, was among those killed, had been a receptionist at the paper and was offered a newsroom job because publisher Craig Garnett often saw her reading a book. “I said, ‘You know, if you love to read that much, you can write,’” Garnett told Monroe. “And, by gosh, she didn’t let us down.”
The New Yorker story is heart-breaking, but it’s also affirming. You’re not going to turn to the Leader-News for an investigative report on the failures of the local police. But as Garnett said, what the paper can provide is “context. A source of understanding, and hand-holding, and healing.” Finally, here is a story from the paper on the victims of the shootings. The headline: “They were smart, funny, loved.”