Charleston Church Shooting: Resources

A mass shooting at a Charleston, South Carolina, church left nine people dead on Wednesday evening. See the Dart Center's resources for journalists covering this tragedy. 

A gunman opened fire at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the nation’s oldest black churches, on Wednesday evening, killing nine. 

The Charleston police have said the white suspect, who is from the Columbia, South Carolina area, walked into a prayer meeting and sat down with black parishioners for close to an hour before opening fire. Among the six women and three men killed was the church's pastor, Reverend Clementa Pinckney, a South Carolina State Senator.

Officials are calling the shooting racially motivated, and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the F.B.I., and the United States Attorney’s Office for South Carolina have opened a hate crime investigation.

"To say our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families and their community doesn't say enough to convey the heartache and the sadness and the anger that we feel," said President Obama from the White House briefing room Thursday morning. "Any death of this sort is a tragedy. Any shooting involving multiple victims is a tragedy. There is something particularly heartbreaking about the death happening in a place in which we seek solace and we seek peace."

"Let's be clear: at some point as a country we will have to reckon that this type of mass violence doesn't happen like this in other advanced countries," he added.

After a 14-hour manhunt, police arrested the suspect in Shelby, North Carolina, a town just north of the South Carolina state border.

The Dart Center has a host of resources and tips for journalists who are tasked with covering this tragedy below:


Psychiatrist Frank Ochberg, M.D. and Bruce Shapiro, executive director of the Dart Center, share insights on covering mass killings in the aftermath of the 2011 Arizona shooting that left six dead and a U.S. Congresswoman grievously injured.

Reporter Dave Cullen's lessons from a decade of reporting on the Columbine attacks.

A self-study unit on covering terrorism.

A compilation of journalist-to-journalist advice, from those who have covered large-scale shootings.

Professor Meg Moritz shares four lessons on covering school shootings.

Quick tips on working with victims and survivors from Dart Centre Asia Pacific.

Resources for Covering Mass Shootings: The Dart Center's Gavin Rees reflects on the 2010 Cumbria Tragedy and sand offers resources for journalists.

In a piece for Walkley magazine, the Dart Center's Bruce Shapiro points to some of what we've learned from covering mass shootings.

"Tragedies and Journalists": the Dart Center's comprehensive guide for reporters, editors, photographers and managers on every aspect of covering tragedy.

"Best Practices in Trauma Reporting," drawn from a decade of Dart Award-winning stories.

Scientific consensus, made readable, on the effects of traumatic coverage on journalists and on media consumers. 

The International Center for Journalists's guide on Journalism and Trauma

Recovery from Unnatural Death: A guide by psychiatrist Ted Rynearson for friends and family of someone who has died violently or suddenly.

Working with victims and survivors: Journalists, researchers and mental health professionals offer advice on how to deal with people caught up in tragic events.


In this video James Grimaldi, investigative reporter at the Wall Street Journal, gives a hard-hitting talk on how to investigate gun sales.

Naming Killers? Families of mass shooting victims ask media not to name shooters.

Firearm Terminology and Vocabulary: A basic guide for describing firearms, accessories, and safety or regulatory technologies.

ATF Crime gun trace data: state-level data only but can be obtained for earlier years by public record request.

Fact Sheet by National Shooting Sports Foundation: Why the Firearms Industry Opposes Background Checks.

National Violent Death Reporting System: NVDRS is the only state-based surveillance reporting system that pools data on violent deaths from multiple sources into a usable, anonymous database. These sources include state and local medical examiner, coroner, law enforcement, crime lab, and vital statistics records. 

Gallup Poll on household gun ownership.


Tips for managers and editors to help them prepare and support reporters in the field.

Dart Center Executive Director Bruce Shapiro passes on lessons for newsrooms learned from the Virginia Tech shooting.

Quick tips on how to support your reporters.


Quick tips on self-care from Dart Centre Asia Pacific.

Self-care advice from an editor who's been there.