The New York Times arrived quickly at the scene of the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in June 2016. A Miami-based correspondent had been vacationing at Disney World just down the interstate.
As the awful details poured in, she was quickly joined by a team of colleagues with a wide array of skills who turned our coverage of this tragedy into a riveting display of the power of digital journalism.
Graphics editors took readers inside of Pulse, room by room. Videographers captured the emotion of the moment by interviewing survivors, one of whom was shot in the back. They were also there to bear witness and capture the tear-filled funeral of two young men who never made it home from an evening out.
Using every tool at our disposal, we deployed journalists across the country and the world to capture the troubled life of Omar Mateen, the young man who had been on the radar screen of the FBI well before he interrupted the salsa and merengue music that night with automatic gunfire. There were haunting photos and chilling videos and arresting graphics and so much more, all designed to help readers get a grasp of this awful terrorist attack.
“It’s easy to see Orlando as a place apart, our sanctuary of fantasy and escape, where fun trumps work and mouse ears are an accepted fashion accessory,” Dan Barry wrote in an essay on the tragedy. “But when a deeply aggrieved, heavily armed man burst into this unremarkable nightclub planted beside a carwash, the ensuing mayhem did not seem to occur in some distant, disconnected place. Instead, it became a sobering mash-up of so much that is contentious in American life. Guns. Gay rights. Islamic extremism. Immigration. Latinos. Guns. Playing out just 20 miles from where George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin, in a state slowly receding into the rising seas, it felt like Disney Dystopia — just in time for Election 2016. Orlando is more than our preferred family vacation destination.Orlando is these fractured United States. Orlando is us.”