In 'Since Parkland,' students chronicle the gun-related deaths of their peers

Posted February 13, 2019 12:19 a.m. EST

— A version of this article first appeared in the "Reliable Sources" newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

Mass murders get national attention. Daily murders usually don't. But McClatchy and The Trace came up with a way to change that.

With the one-year anniversary of the Parkland massacre coming up on Thursday, the news outlets have published "Since Parkland," the product of a year-long effort to "document the gun-related death of every youth under 18 years old in the US." The journalists counted almost 1,200 deaths, "the equivalent of a Parkland every FIVE days, in aggregate in the US."

This project began with The Trace — a nonprofit newsroom that focuses on guns — and the Miami Herald. Then the Herald partnered with McClatchy's papers in Kansas City, Modesto, Fort Worth, Raleigh, Macon, and other markets "to document patterns in child gun deaths." Here are the results...

Kids writing about the deaths of kids

A key part of the "Since Parkland" project are the portraits of the victims. The portraits were written by 215 student journalists across the country.

"The Trace partnered with journalism educators with decades of experience," the website's managing editor Akoto Ofori-Atta told me.

Why involve students? "Because it's their story to tell," Ofori-Atta said. "Polls show gun violence is a top concern for young people. After Parkland, they rightly admonished the press for focusing too much on mass shootings and not enough on everyday gun violence, so we asked them to join us in our continued effort to correct that imbalance."

"I wish I could take all the bullets for you."

Read this. It is a letter written by Lori Aldaheff to her daughter Alyssa, who was killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. "As I remember you, grief washes over me," Lori wrote. "But that grief emboldens me to fight for change. I wish I could take all the bullets for you."

Brooke Baldwin teared up while reading the letter aloud on Tuesday's "CNN Newsroom." Here's the video...

Dave Cullen's new book

"Columbine" author Dave Cullen's new book "Parkland: Birth of a Movement" came out on Tuesday.

"For ten months," CJR's Carlett Spike wrote, Cullen embedded himself with the student survivors who formed Never Again MSD.

"I felt hopeless and just bleak since Columbine," Cullen told her. "It was 19 years into this, and it's not like we had tried and failed. We had done nothing, which is just disgraceful. We failed to pass gun-control legislation. We taught kids to hide better. When I think about lockdowns, it makes me more and more angry. That's the solution? Turn off the lights and close the door? I have real doubts about what that really does." But: "When I met the Parkland kids, they were all really bright, creative, and they were doing something powerful." He said it was a privilege "to go inside their heads and talk about what's going on..."


-- Katie Couric is writing a memoir titled "Unexpected." Little, Brown and Company says it will come out in the spring of 2021... (USA Today)

-- Things are going downhill at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: The newsroom's union "wants publisher and EIC JR Block barred from the paper's North Shore office after the guild said Block 'went berserk in the newsroom' on Saturday night..." (The Incline)

-- Activision Blizzard is "laying off 8% of its workforce and restructuring its business to focus on its top games," Paul R. La Monica reported Tuesday. "It's another sign of how much Fornite's popularity has upended the video game industry..." (CNN)

-- "Movie studio MGM Holdings is looking for a strategic partner for its Epix cable channel..." (The Information)

-- Former Sony Entertainment CEO and current Snap chairman Michael Lynton "has been elected non-executive chairman of the board of Warner Music Group..." (Billboard)

What Trump is hearing from his Fox advisers

Here's CNN's latest on the effort to avoid another government shutdown.

On Tuesday Trump said he's not happy about the tentative deal. Neither are his advisers on Fox. Laura Ingraham's show called it a "lame" deal. Sean Hannity railed against the proposal while an on-screen graphic called it a "SWAMPY COMPROMISE." But, he said, he's okay with the president signing the bill, provided a national emergency is declared and more money is freed up for wall construction...

Howard Schultz speaks

CNN's town hall with Howard Schultz, moderated by Poppy Harlow, just wrapped up. In his first few minutes, Schultz asked the audience to raise a hand "if you think the government is doing well for you." No one did. "That is why I'm here!" Schultz said. "And I've got good news for you. We can fix it!"

He came back to that basic proposition about broken govt later in the town hall. CNN's live blog about the forum has all the takeaways...

>> Schultz spoke "mostly about what he's against," Ryan Lizza said on "CNN Tonight" afterward...

>> Tommy Vietor applauded Harlow's follow-up Q's: "Bring her back for a real debate..."

CNN's next town hall...

...Is with Senator Amy Klobuchar. Don Lemon will moderate the event in New Hampshire next Monday night. CNN's first town hall of the season was with Kamala Harris last month...

Today's Bezos updates

Frankly there wasn't much new to report on Tuesday.

-- Trump was asked by a reporter, "Were you aware that AMI was investigating Jeff Bezos?" Trump: "No, no I wasn't."

-- The whodunit continues: Page Six said multiple suspects, "including Lauren Sanchez," are "being probed as leakers of Bezos nude pics."

-- Alex Shephard, writing for The New Republic, said Bezos is "no hero" and his "adventures in journalism deserve more critical scrutiny."


-- David Carr died four years ago Tuesday. Erin Lee Carr, one of his daughters, wrote this about his last night. (Medium)

-- Kelly McBride says Jill Abramson should say she's sorry: "By not calling it plagiarism, you're hurting all of journalism..." (Poynter)

-- Cardiologist Jonathan Reiner, the man Dick Cheney trusts with his heart, tweeted Tuesday: "It's been 4 days since the president underwent his annual physical exam and still no data has been released. What are they hiding?"

-- Read more of Tuesday's "Reliable Sources" newsletter... And subscribe here to receive future editions in your inbox...

-- "Are we bordering on make-believe?" Chuck Todd said the president "seems to be pretending to fulfill his campaign promise by pretending to build his wall..." (Medium)