Of course the top story in the national news is about a gunman who opened fire on a congressional baseball practice, putting House majority whip Steve Scalise in the hospital in critical condition, and injuring five other victims, at least one critically.  This is a horrible story, but the thing that struck me in one story was that the journalist pinpointed the exact location and practice times at the end of his article.  I couldn't help but think he was saying, "If you want to shoot a baseball-loving congressman here is the time and place to do it."

It's not that the location is a secret.  But why broadcast it?  It wasn't important to the story to know that.  It may be a fun fact to know and share, but what value, actually, does it add to a news story?

This was certainly an important story because one of the most powerful people in our government was shot.  The Majority Whip.  Does anyone really know what a whip is?  I thought it must come from the idea that this person keeps the government working in an orderly fashion by whipping his or her colleagues into shape.  Actually, I've read it comes from a hunting term, 'whipper-in', whose job it is to keep the dogs together.  That certainly suggests a lot of jokes about Congress that I won't even begin to get into here!

Facts of a news story are important.  People want to know whether it was a terror attack, and they would want to know who was hurt, and what happened to the gunman (he was killed in the shootout).  All good facts to include, especially because this wasn't just any murder attempt, but an attempt on congressmen and their aides.  The fact that members of Congress play baseball is a fun fact I didn't know, and it kind of takes politics out of the equation and shows them to be human beings, whether or not you agree with their politics.

I'm not sure if this is a difference between mainstream news and small town reporting, but I always seem to be weighing how much to reveal and how best to write about things because I live in this community and I need people to keep talking to me for later articles.  I also feel a responsibility to my community to report the news, but without harming the community while doing so.  Most times that's not a difficult call.  Sometimes it is.

I get a lot of praise for articles from people who agree with whatever I wrote, and have been excoriated for other articles by people who didn't agree.  It kinds of jades you.  It reminds me of the famous celebrity quote -- I can't remember who said it: "I never read reviews.  If I believed the good ones I'd have to believe the bad ones."  Or something to that effect.

I hate when national monuments are destroyed on TV or the movies.  There is something about it that challenges my sense of things being the way they ought to be.  I loved when Will Smith punched an invading alien in the nose in 'Independence Day', but I hated when the White House was destroyed.  I didn't like the half-buried Statue of Liberty in 'Planet of the Apes', and I really hated the half-destroyed Capitol Building in the current TV drama, 'Designated Survivor'.  (I'll bet that makes a lot of current congressmen and senators cringe, too!)  It was bad enough to watch the twin towers attacked for real on live TV.  Why give people ideas in the movies?

Even though the outrageous price of a post office box irks me, we've had one for years.  It started when I was working for a giant online media company in a unit that managed what today is called Social Media.  The kiddies, as we called them, would find Web sites listing employees' screen names plus some choice phrases to copy into an instant message window.  I often got "I know where you live and I can see your children right now" death threats in my IM window.

I knew these were fake threats and didn't let them bother me, as much as that is possible.  But my wife and I agreed it was prudent to rent a PO Box for our mail so our street address wouldn't be listed in the phone book.  There was no point in advertising to the kiddies where they could find us.  That's probably why that practice schedule and location in the article bothered me so much.

Any spy thriller fan knows that the baddies watch their intended victims' patterns when they are planning to kill them or kidnap them to force state secrets from them.  If fictional spies know this, it isn't too much of a stretch to think that some jerk angry enough to gun people down will figure it out.

No doubt there will be more baseball practices at that time and location.  Any crazy person with Internet access can find that article and go there to do it again.  I just don't think reporters need to help these people.