As we try to unravel the whole Manti Te’o/”Lennay Kekua” mystery – is she dead? Is she alive? Does she exist? Was Te’o in on it or is he the biggest rube in America? – “sports journalists” (one of my favorite oxymorons, btw) are taking a right kicking, and deservedly so. Everybody out there who reported on the heartbreaking dead girlfriend story is now having to account for the willingness to push the narrative even once troubling discrepancies began to arise. Things like there was no death certificate. And Stanford never heard of her. And the police had no accident records. And shouldn’t there be hospital records? And wait – you’ve never met her? And so on. Continue reading Bad journalism: it isn’t just a Manti Te’o thing. Remember Columbine?
Part two in a series
How did it happen? Why did it happen? There’s simply no way to measure how many hours have devoted to these questions in the ten years and four days since Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold opened fire at Columbine High School, and while we don’t (and never will) have all the answers, we do have some of them. Obviously a good bit of the discussion focuses on the individuals themselves, and other analyses cast a broader net, examining the social factors that shaped the individuals. In a way, the question we’re still debating perhaps boils down to nature vs. nurture. Were Harris and Klebold Natural Born Killers? Or are they better understood as by-products of deeper social trends and dynamics?
The answer is probably “All of the above,” but we can’t simply check C and be on our merry, uncritical way. Continue reading Ten years on: was Columbine the rule or the exception?
Part one of a series
April 20, 2009: 11:19 am MDT
Ten years ago a co-worker turned to me and said something that I’ll never forget, no matter how long I live: “Hey, Sammy, there’s been a school shooting in Littleton.”
Since that day a great deal has been written and said about Columbine High School and the events of 4.20.99, and like a lot of other people I’ve tried my hardest to make sense of something that seemed (and still seems) inherently senseless. Tried and failed. Now, ten years on, the grief hasn’t fully dissipated here in the city that I have come to call home, and even if we manage to understand the whos, whats, and hows, there’s a part of us that’s doomed to wrestle forever with the whys. Continue reading Ten years on: the enduring lessons of Columbine
Posted: April 20, 2007: 11:19 am MDT
In 1999 I was the Electronic Communications Manager for US West’s internal comm group, and my team rode herd on several channels used to communicate with 44,000 employees in 14 states and DC. Mornings were usually really busy – we posted things when they happened, but we did a big daily update by noon every day. Sometime around lunch Joe Lopez, who handled a variety of things for us, said, “hey, Sammy, there’s been a school shooting in Littleton.” Continue reading It was eight years ago today
It won’t stop raining, and nobody seems to care.
I went to Columbine twice this week. On Wednesday I was simply overwhelmed – I have never seen anything like the rambling memorial site that has spread across the grounds of the high school and the adjacent Clement Park, never imagined anything like it. There was no sense of scale, of proportion – there exists no frame of reference with which to make sense of this deluge of grief. But I feel compelled to try describing what I saw, the pain, the small expressions of faith for the future, this physical manifestation of a community’s psychic anguish. So I returned yesterday, Saturday, hoping vainly for perspective where none appears possible.
As you turn east off Wadsworth and drive down Bowles the park and school grounds lie to your right. Continue reading Columbine and the Power of Symbols