In 1999 I was working at WHDH TV in Boston when we first heard reports of the shooting at Columbine High School. Everyone went into breaking news mode. That’s what news people do. It’s our job. Our reporter headed to the airport. We were in wall to wall coverage. I was running so fast through the newsplex with video to edit that I rolled my ankle. I couldn’t walk by the end of the day and I ended up on crutches. It was the day “school shooting” first entered into my news vocabulary.
Nearly 20 years later and it was just around noon today when we first heard reports of the shooting in Florida. Everyone went into breaking news mode. That’s what news people do. It’s our job. Only today there was no running for me. There was no rolled ankle. There was no need to. Because I’ve seen this story before. Time. And. Time. Again. Who was the shooter? What was the motive? Did we check social media for photos and video? How many people died? Has the President tweeted any reaction? We already had generic school shooting graphics made from the LAST school shooting we covered. Let that sink in. We ALREADY had special graphics ready to go for a school shooting because we cover them so frequently.
Here on the west coast we dipped in and out of coverage from our sister Fox station in Miami WSVN.. it’s also the sister station of WHDH where I had my first full time staff job in news. I know some of the same people on the air at WSVN today were with me that day in 1999 at WHDH.
All these years later.
How far we’ve all come.
Or maybe how far we still have to go.
My sister texted me in the middle of the afternoon saying our neighbor from Leo Road in Sharon, MA where we grew up, taught at that same school district in Florida. He’s safe and I’m grateful. I know the same can’t be said for all his students and coworkers.
I got on the freeway for the long LA ride home tonight. The never ending commute can provide some good thinking time. And today was no exception. Today, as has happened on occasion over the years, on too many occasions to be honest, after a long day of staring at the news, after a long day of telling stories which never should have needed to be told, after a long day of talking about the next school shooting, I started to tear up.
Nothing will ever get me used to this.