Most of what we’re telling you may be wrong

A reporter from the Columbine school shooting acknowledges that just about everything that was reported after the 1999 shooting was wrong. He says it’s a cautionary tale when considering everything you’re hearing now from Connecticut.

There’s been considerable pushback against the news coverage of the tragedy. Suppose you’re the assignment editor of a major news organization. What story — if any, of course — are you assigning today?

  • jon

    So the shooter in Connecticut was 25 right?

    1999 was 13 years back, meaning he would have been ~12 when Columbine happened?

    Same with the Aura shooter…

    Virginia tech shooter would have been a little older…

    So what I’d be looking for at this point, is what about this age group makes them want to go out and shoot places up? Is this a mental health issue that we can trace back to Reagan shutting down mental health facilities? Did Columbine play a role, are these people actually looking to get the same attention that the Columbine shooters got? Or are teenagers and 20 somethings just the most likely candidates to go and shoot up a place?

    I was personally in high school when Columbine happened and remember walking a girl in my class to her other classes because she was worried about a shooting in our school (what the heck I would have done to help her if there was a shooter I have no idea, but walking her to class seemed to make her feel safer then me explaining the statistical unlikely hood of a shooter in our school) it is a part of our collective conscious now, and all of the “precautions” taken to prevent an extremely unlikely event immediately after in my school, and others around the country, is something that people my age will likely remember.

    Now that I’m grown, and I do not have children, I don’t see much change from the shooting other then lots of people in social media, and regular media telling me about it over and over and over again… I don’t know that the event has the same effect on me. Personally I have to wonder if reporting on these events themselves is to blame. People my age know how to be remembered for ever in the collective consciousness of our peers… winning a noble prize doesn’t do it, curing cancer doesn’t do it, killing a double digit number of people in a single shooting… that does it.

  • KCMarshall

    I would want to step back from this case and explore what efforts are being made to understand past incidents. Who is taking a comprehensive look at the killers and their actions as well as past efforts to prevent incidents like Sandy Hook, Aurora, etc.

    I was surprised to learn that research into gun-related violence by the CDC is prevented by act of Congress (see the ‘Tiahart amendment’). I’m concerned that we are being willfully ignorant about these tragic events although I don’t know whether other entities (Universities, think tanks, law enforcement agencies) may be filling the void.

  • Bob Collins

    // Is this a mental health issue that we can trace back to Reagan shutting down mental health facilities?

    Repeating my comment the last time this assertion was made:

    Deinstitutionalization actually started as an initiative under Kennedy and anyone who’s ever seen Titicut Follies knows it’s not necessarily a bad thing. President Carter supported and signed the Mental Health Systems Act which began to transfer the responsibility to states. Even by the time Reagan took office, the institutionalization of the mentally ill had already dropped by 75 percent. But even in the 70s, it was clear that people who would otherwise be committed, were not getting support in their communities as an alternative. That’s one of the reasons why SSDI was created. Where Reagan’s involvement came was when he cut federal human service programs that supported the deinstituionalized, not so much that he closed the institutions in the first place. But even today, as the 2004 Bad State of Mind series showed, a major problem is the fractured system. You can stand on a county border in Minnesota and have two different mental health systems , depending on in which direction you’re looking.