Sacramento Ombud Deconstructs ‘Columbine-Like’ School Incident That Fizzle


Sacramento Bee Ombudsman Tony Marcano this week deconstructs the news decision-making process surrounding the reporting and play of a planned “Columbine-style” attack at California high school.

Marcano wrote, “On Feb. 10 at about 1 p.m., Bee City Editor Stuart Drown learned from two of his reporters that a stunning story was unfolding: the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department was about to release news that it had thwarted a planned ‘Columbine-style’ attack at Laguna Creek High School.

“The news set in motion a platoon of reporters and photographers. It also set off what editors agree was one of the most vigorous debates at The Bee in some time.

“The day’s events resulted in nearly textbook examples of what goes on behind-the-scenes when a newspaper is faced with a breaking story. Within less than three hours, The Bee’s editors grappled – sometimes heatedly – with issues of speed, accuracy, personnel, restraint and hyperbole as they prepared a front-page story and a companion article inside.”


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