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What we learn by covering tragedy

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by Lori Keekley
When I first signed up for this week’s blog, I was excited to write because it’s Banned Books Week.

However, I scrapped that plan Monday when I learned about the shootings in Las Vegas. So, instead of my original plan of blogging about overt censorship, I’m working to help students learn to not self-censor their coverage concerning the Las Vegas shootings.

While the students and I have talked about the coverage of state gun ownership and gun laws, where legislators stand, what students think and the impact on our school and community, I can’t help but think about the other coverage I’ve seen.

We’ve looked through Columbia Journalism Review’s digest of the coverage during the past two days to see how we’re approaching the topic. The students are tracking down every person rumored to have someone who they know there.

They are also examining how gun violence has impacted their community after a workplace shooting that involved the parent of a student who attended our school. What conversation did it forward then … what is it now? Has it sparked activism? Has it incited more calls for Second Amendment protections?

But it’s more than that.

This weekend I finished “The Hate U Give,” by Angie Thomas. Since then, the main character has remained with me, and  I can’t stop thinking about the gun violence she experienced while growing up in a poor black neighborhood.

We have students where I teach who also have been impacted by gun violence. Instead of self-censoring or being afraid of covering this, I will continue to encourage my students to cover the students and staff of St. Louis Park High School. By showing their stories, their fears and their views, we robustly cover our student body, which is our main goal.

This week has left me, like many others, with many more questions than answers — many of which will never have answers.

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