Reporting the Columbine Anniversary

Yesterday, for the 10th anniversary of the infamous school shooting at Columbine, the Dart Center published a package for student journalists and educators with articles and other resources covering similar incidents; today, we took a look around the web and through our archive for more.

In the past weeks and days, some media outlets followed up with survivors to consider the ongoing effects of the decade-old event. Many looked for causes, whether by reflecting on what we've learned about preventing and containing similar events, exploring simpler arguments for strengthening gun control and, perhaps less plausibly, deemphasizing athletics. A New York Times blog asked the provocative rhetorical question,  "Can we blame the parents?"

For the last few weeks, though, a new book titled, simply, Columbine has dominated coverage of the anniversary. The author, Dave Cullen, was a 2002 Dart Center Ochberg Fellow who reported on the tragedy for Salon and Slate. In the past few weeks there have been excerpts, interviews and reviews as well as news articles citing his book as the most authoritative reference, a corrective for the myths and distortions that became part of the story.  Chief among these is the idea that the killers were members of a "Trenchcoat Mafia," or that they purposefully singled out jocks, minorities or the religious.

Reading about the initial mistakes and the search for answers that continues to this day reveals the unique challenge of mainstream media coverage of acts of mass violence, and also the innovation and strength of those, like Cullen, who rise to the challenge. The Dart Award for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma was created to recognize such innovators, and ten years ago it honored Patricia Callahan and Dan Luzadder at the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News for stories on Columbine's aftermath.

This year, the Dart Awards is honoring a new crop of innovators. It seems fitting on the day after Columbine's anniversary to recognize them.

You can read about those winners and see their stories online, and if you are in New York City, you can attend an award ceremony and panel discussion with the winners next Tuesday, April 28.

You can also click here for all Dart Center content related to Columbine.