It isn't always pretty, but it's Gwinnett news

It's one of those news events that attracts a lot of comment - and controversy.

Anytime a local police officer is shot or shoots someone, you can pretty much bet it's front-page news for the Daily Post.

On Wednesday, a Gwinnett County SWAT officer shot a man who had reportedly fought with his fiancee, took a hostage, barricaded himself inside a home, repelled shots from a Taser and came at police while brandishing two butcher knives. The assailant died after going in to surgery.

The story, along with some pretty spectacular photos of sheriff's deputies attempting to hold the man at gunpoint, published on Page One of Thursday's paper.

After Thursday's print edition hit the streets, we began receiving comment critical of the shooting and our coverage. It's not unusual. We often hear from readers following traumatic events.

"I was shocked by the photos of the SWAT team operations in Thursday's paper," one reader wrote.

Another couldn't believe that a picture was shown of the man shortly before he was shot.

A million decisions go into each edition of the Daily Post. Because we publish our print edition on a 24-hour cycle and our Web site is updated throughout the day, many of those million decisions are made quickly.

Standard operating procedure is for newsroom editors to discuss "how to play" a story of such magnitude. That involves determining where the story will run (front page or inside?), placement on the page (top or bottom?), photos (which ones, how big?), type of headline, etc.

The photo was discussed. There were others to choose from, but the photo published at the top of Page One did the best job of capturing the news event as it unfolded. Often in these situations, headlines are crafted and sent through the newsroom for comment. On this night, the story passed through three editors before it was placed on the page.

Not all are our decisions are correct, but each is made with regard to the victim, their family and friends.

The sentiments of the readers quoted above send the message that they don't believe we care, that we're heartless and in blind pursuit of a story regardless of the consequences to those involved.

It's not true. We're not jaded. We have a job to do and do it as respectfully as we can.

Inevitably, we'll hear the complaint that "all you want to do is sell papers."

We do want to sell papers, but we sell papers by delivering local news, not exploiting tragedies. Often, news and tragedy are one and the same, and so it was in this case.

The Daily Post will continue to cover the news of our community. Some of it isn't pretty. Some of it is downright ugly. But it's news and our obligation is to let our readers know it.

Thankfully we live in a community where such shootings are still front-page news.

J.K. Murphy is publisher of the Daily Post. E-mail him at jk.murphy@gwinnettdailypost.com or call 770-963-9205 ext. 1104.