Homicide on Campus: Student Journalists Reflect

Sacramento State Hornet student journalists were among the first to arrive at the scene where a California State University, Sacramento, student was beaten to death and his alleged assailant was shot by police. In this video produced by photojournalist Brian Feulner, four editors recall their actions and reactions in covering the tragic event.

College campus homicides are rare, but they can be highly traumatic for the campus community and its student journalists.

The traumatic effects were all too apparent to Sacramento State Hornet journalists on Oct. 21, 2009 and the days that followed. They were among the first to arrive at the bloody dorm room and report that a fellow student had been beaten to death with a baseball bat and that his roommate, the alleged assailant, had been shot in the ensuing standoff with police.

Looking back, Hornet editors say they never could have fully prepared for the emotional impact of dealing with that kind of death, violence and tragedy involving peers and happening in a place they and other students considered safe. While well-served by their journalistic instincts and training, they agreed that advance planning and knowledge would have helped.

Two Dart Center resources speak directly to their advice and experience: Self Study Unit 4: The First 24 Hours provides an overview of what to expect in the physically and psychologically demanding first day of reporting traumatic breaking news. Hometown Catastrophe: How Newsrooms Can Prepare shares what journalists have learned about covering tragic stories, including school shootings, in their own communities.

This video, produced by photojournalist Brian Feulner, creates an opportunity for other student journalists and media advisers to consider their own plans and preparations for a tragic, violent event on their campus.

Watch the video: