You can't hide from what happened. You can't pretend it's over, because it will never be over. All you can do is try to understand.
By leaning into a heartbreaking story and asking questions for which there are no easy answers, these journalists, along with many others, are carrying their weight in a community heavy with burdens.
In addition to exploring the complicated life of Nancy Lanza, the "Frontline" special gave viewers a front seat to the journalistic process. Conversations full of doubts and contradictions pepper the "Frontline" documentary — between reporters and their sources, reporters and their editors, reporters and themselves. That's what reporting sometimes looks like. You gather tiny piles of facts like raking up so many dead leaves. You shuffle through them, kicking them around, looking for clues. You back away and look at the mess from a distance, then rake the pile together again. Then you go out and look for more facts.
To some it might seem that Griffin, Kovner and Kauffman were stretching their authority on camera, with speculation and guesswork. But read their printed stories in The Courant last week and you see a responsible assembling of facts, with as many questions as answers.
The real triumph of those 60 "Frontline" minutes was to show real reporters at work, being human, trying their best to get a little closer to the truth. You see both success (revealing interviews) and failure (the father and the brother still won't talk.)
Sure we need reporters to conduct big investigations that reveal secret prisons and abuse of power, because democracy depends on that. But we also need stories that look into the darkest corners of our daily lives and simply describe what's there. The most meaningful work journalists produce does not result in journalistic home runs. Instead, we get base hits. We get incremental stories that take us closer to the truth.
We say his name now, AdamLanza, as if it is a single word. Not Adam, as if we knew him. Not Lanza, like a familiar character in an ongoing narrative. We don't want him to be familiar. He is AdamLanza, the man who killed our women and our children. But we say his name.
As much as we might want to erase him from our memory, smooth over just a tiny bit of that pain, not saying his name would not be helpful. Allowing his name to slip from our consciousness is to give in to a weakness that will swallow us if we let it.
The Courant and "Frontline" did this work for us, too. They said it out loud: Adam. Lanza. In telling this story of Adam Lanza and his mother, Nancy, they took necessary steps toward chronicling what is likely to be known as the worst event in Connecticut's history. We know from world history how important it is to eventually tell every horrible detail of devastating events. This is how we move on. This is why we establish truth and reconciliation commissions in places like post-apartheid South Africa. It is why we still read Anne Frank's diary or Elie Wiesel's "Night."
We must continue to speak out loud about Sandy Hook, including the truth about Adam and Nancy Lanza. It will take time, maybe decades, maybe longer, to tell the complete story. These attempts will at times seem to tear open the wounds as they heal. But light is a disinfectant that heals as it cleans. Those wounds will become infected and toxic if there is no light.
Critics will say that journalists are only trying to exploit the pain, and certainly some are. But not the journalists who live among you, who experienced this same horror. It's not a comfortable or pleasant thing to be a local journalist in a moment like this. The national journalists, they got to go home to New York or D.C. Your local journalists, it is their duty to continue to ask questions, look for new information and try to find meaning. They do this, not as outsiders, but as members of your community, which is bound together now by a searing pain.
Kelly McBride is senior faculty for ethics, reporting and writing at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies.