From Columbine To Arapahoe, Denver Post Learns How to Cover Shootings


Comparing coverage of the Columbine High School massacre of 1999 with last Friday’s school shooting near Denver, Denver Post journalists tell the Poynter Institute, “covering tragedy is a pretty familiar process.” Rebecca Risch, digital director for the Post, says, “I think we've learned, sadly, just how to break this kind of news.”

April 20, 1999 was Larry Ryckman's birthday. He took the day off. When he learned of the Columbine shooting, he rushed in to his Denver office. Ryckman was, at that time, an assistant managing editor at The Associated Press. He directed the AP's coverage of Columbine. Last Friday, Ryckman, now at the Denver Post, learned of the school shooting at Arapahoe High through Pagenet, which e-mails updates from the police scanner. A lot has changed since he covered Columbine. “You file quickly,” he said. “You tell readers what you know when you know it.”

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