In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, student newspapers around the world have been weighing in on the disaster, offering insights tailored for their fellow undergraduates, many of whom are still reeling from the shock of Monday’s horrors.
College Media Matters has been collecting images of the front pages of college media outfits across the country, and the student journalists’ coverage has ranged from in-depth accounts of the tragedy to retellings of the first-hand experiences of students participating in the race, to analyses of their campus’ response on social media.
At our paper, a weekly which prints on Fridays, we’ve got some time to figure out exactly what we want to say about the attack and how we want to say it. And yesterday, I had the chance to talk with a student Marathon runner who told me exactly what, from her perspective, we ought to be doing. After giving an interview to a swarm of journalists from area newspapers in the minutes following an on-campus memorial service, she thought it necessary to steer their coverage away from the gruesome and the sensational, to avoid simply adding one more voice to the many who have described the unspeakable horror of the moment on the 26th mile. “I am not a hero,” she told them in a short improvised speech about sensitivity and context – she is merely one of thousands of participants and onlookers trying to make sense of it all.
I had a chance to catch up with her after I listened to her give her interview (we had another Gatepost reporter covering the vigil), and I told her I’d been thinking about what she said, and that I promised to make our coverage worthwhile to the student body – something other than the facts, stories and reflections with which they’d no doubt be inundated by the end of the week. I told her the take-away this week would be the strength and resilience of FSU students, the deep meaning the Marathon holds for them and the ways in which they can begin to heal, together.
As an 81-year-old paper, The Gatepost has covered the Second World War, 9/11, Oklahoma City, Virginia Tech and everything in between. I truly believe that a newspaper, and especially a student newspaper whose purpose is to inform and enlighten the on-campus community, can do great things in the wake of such tragedies. If we focus on what coverage really matters most to our peers, I think we can do just that.