Columbine tenth anniversary coverage: massive, well-intentioned, mostly unenlightening
A word that applies to the vast majority of the stories I've seen, heard or read about today's tenth anniversary of the killings at Columbine High School is "obligatory." Although fewer commemorative efforts have appeared on April 20 in recent years than in the immediate aftermath of the bloodshed caused by students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, everyone knew the trend would be reversed at the decade mark, and that's certainly been the case. Every local newscast I saw yesterday and this morning has led with footage of Sunday's candlelight vigil at Clement Park, near the school's campus, followed by assorted tie-ins that add precious little to our understanding of the 1999 tragedy.
Granted, editors and producers face a genuine dilemma when it comes to dates like this one. Their audience expects something to appear on the topic, which will no doubt be on the minds of average Denverites today. But the subject has been covered and covered and covered so many times that only remarks by the parents of the killers might add to our understanding of the horrific happening -- and they're still not talking. Hence, the surplus of de rigeuer conversations with the families of loved ones lost on that awful day and where-are-they-now features about prominent survivors. Among the most unusual of the latter was an ESPN package focusing on Patrick Ireland, the so-called "Boy in the Window," who's writing a book about his experiences with the assistance of Denver Post columnist Terry Frei; read an excerpt here. The connection to sports? Ireland was a student athlete, and several professional jocks visited him in the hospital during his recovery and rehabilitation, including ESPN commentator and former Bronco Mark Schlereth, who also appeared in the segment.
Frankly, the best part about this last offering was simply seeing Ireland, who looked strong, sturdy and mature -- a survivor. At this point, that's about the most we can hope for from Columbine anniversary reports.