Ten years ago this month, two Colorado high school students massacred students, staff, and faculty at Columbine High School, then shot themselves. Journalist Dave Cullen, in a new book about the case, provides “a searing indictment of almost all the reporters and editors involved in the coverage–the author included,” says Steve Weinberg in the Columbia Journalism Review. Most stories reported that two outcast teenagers carried guns to their school and started shooting, aiming at the jocks who had tormented them but killing others along the way. The reality is far different.
Cullen says that the killers, contrary to news coverage, were not part of the Trench Coat Mafia, were not Goths, did not celebrate Adolf Hitler's birthday, and were not born-again Christians. Says Weinberg, paraphrasing Cullen: Due to incomplete and otherwise careless reporting, most journalists formed their frame of reference for the story early, then screened out contradictory evidence. One media outlet that came in for praise is the Rocky Mountain News, which went out of business this winter. Another book on Columbine is just out from Jeff Kass, a reporter for that paper: “Columbine: A True Crime Story.”