As we try to unravel the whole Manti Te’o/”Lennay Kekua” mystery – is she dead? Is she alive? Does she exist? Was Te’o in on it or is he the biggest rube in America? – “sports journalists” (one of my favorite oxymorons, btw) are taking a right kicking, and deservedly so. Everybody out there who reported on the heartbreaking dead girlfriend story is now having to account for the willingness to push the narrative even once troubling discrepancies began to arise. Things like there was no death certificate. And Stanford never heard of her. And the police had no accident records. And shouldn’t there be hospital records? And wait – you’ve never met her? And so on. Read more
Part two in a series
How did it happen? Why did it happen? There’s simply no way to measure how many hours have devoted to these questions in the ten years and four days since Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold opened fire at Columbine High School, and while we don’t (and never will) have all the answers, we do have some of them. Obviously a good bit of the discussion focuses on the individuals themselves, and other analyses cast a broader net, examining the social factors that shaped the individuals. In a way, the question we’re still debating perhaps boils down to nature vs. nurture. Were Harris and Klebold Natural Born Killers? Or are they better understood as by-products of deeper social trends and dynamics?
The answer is probably “All of the above,” but we can’t simply check C and be on our merry, uncritical way. Read more
Part one of a series
April 20, 2009: 11:19 am MDT
Ten years ago a co-worker turned to me and said something that I’ll never forget, no matter how long I live: “Hey, Sammy, there’s been a school shooting in Littleton.”
Since that day a great deal has been written and said about Columbine High School and the events of 4.20.99, and like a lot of other people I’ve tried my hardest to make sense of something that seemed (and still seems) inherently senseless. Tried and failed. Now, ten years on, the grief hasn’t fully dissipated here in the city that I have come to call home, and even if we manage to understand the whos, whats, and hows, there’s a part of us that’s doomed to wrestle forever with the whys. Read more
I was living in NC when Colorado’s governor, Bill Ritter, was elected, and therefore didn’t follow the campaign closely and don’t really know a lot about the guy except that he’s bound to be better than his predecessor, Bill Owens. Short of actually outlawing schools, Owens did all he possibly could to destroy education in the state, and I’m sure everybody in the tourism industry will remember when his dumb ass stepped in front of the cameras a few summers back to announce that “today, the entire state of Colorado is on fire.” He didn’t actually say “please take your tourism dollars to Utah,” but he might as well have.
Lately, though, I’m learning that a lot of my fellow Coloradans don’t much like Ritter, and this includes a lot of Democrats who voted for him. Read more
Once upon a time the Denver Post was a pretty good newspaper. These days? Well, it’s pretty much like every other newspaper. And that isn’t a compliment. On Sunday last (the 21st) we were presented with a front-page, above-the-fold case study in what happens when budget cuts drive too many professionals out of the newsroom and talent that might once have served the public interest in a journalistic role turns to public relations.
Short version: Read more
Sometimes it’s the small things that get the day off to a rollicking start. Like this, from the Denver Post.
“The opportunity to run one of the state’s most prestigious research universities sounds pretty good to soon-to-be unemployed politicians like Sen. Wayne Allard and state Rep. Bernie Buescher. “
For those of you unfamiliar with the state of Colorado, we probably have upwards of two research universities. So when you get a chance to run one of the more prestigious ones, you really have to jump at it.
In a long-overdue move, Boulder prosecutors have officially cleared the family of JonBenet Ramsey in the girl’s December 26, 1996 murder. I say “long-overdue” because for those of us who’ve paid attention to the evidence it’s been clear for years now – painfully, maddeningly clear – that the family was innocent.
I emphasize “evidence” in that sentence for a reason. There are facts in this case, and pretty much without exception those who are convinced of the family’s guilt are people who are relying not on evidence, but on media reports that run the gamut from “inaccurate” to “creative writing.” Read more
The header on the story reads this way: CU’s Campus Press Fights for Independence.
The subhead is equally on-point: A contentious faculty meeting points to independence for CU-Boulder’s student newspaper â€” but at what cost?
But at that point the journalism train jumps the tracks, because the first couple grafs eschew any consideration of the alleged story itself in favor of a gratuitous drive-by snarking from reporter Michael Roberts.
University of Colorado at Boulder journalism professor Michael Tracey has never previously suffered from camera shyness. Read more
An edited version of this story appeared in the Denver Post on May 8, 1997 (p. 7B).
The past few nights in Boulder have seen student rioting unlike anything Colorado has experienced in years. Darkness has literally transformed the Hill into a bonfire-lit war zone, with drunken youths throwing everything they can pick up and the police responding with tear gas and rubber bullets. Both sides have taken casualties, although thankfully no one has died yet.
As unanticipated as this outburst has been, something disturbingly similar happened in May, 1988, at Iowa State University in Ames during the annual VEISHEA festival. Read more