How The Media Botched & Hyped The Columbine School Shooting

“The killing of 12 students and a teacher at Columbine High School in 1999 continues to shape how we view and understand school shootings today.”

While the event remains chilling all these years later, this New York Times Retro Report (When Columbine Is Invoked, Fears Tend to Overshadow Facts) makes clear that the coverage at the time and following were sadly problematic. How many kids and teachers were killed? Twelve plus one. Why’d they do it? Not because they were part of the Trench Coat Mafia, or victims of bullying, or to target individuals. 

“What the public came to believe about Columbine was flat-out wrong. Myths took root from the start, nurtured by frightened and confused students and amplified by news outlets running hard with rumor and conjecture… In fact, as Mr. Cullen notes, Columbine was less a successful school shooting than it was a failed school bombing.” Read more by clicking the NYT story above or listening to this NPR segment

Alexander Russo

Alexander Russo is a freelance education writer who has created several long-running blogs such as the national news site This Week In Education, District 299 (about Chicago schools), and LA School Report. He can be reached on Twitter at @alexanderrusso, on Facebook, or directly at alexanderrusso@gmail.com.