SPJ Florida board member discusses mass shooting coverage of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Stoneman Douglas shooting photo
Pamela Tilton, right, comforts Che James-Riley, 18, as they light a candle at a memorial for the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Feb. 15, 2018, in Parkland, Florida. wikimedia.org photo

– From SPJ Florida

Lulu Ramadan
Lulu Ramadan

SPJ Florida board member and Palm Beach Post reporter Lulu Ramadan participated in an April 28 panel discussion on mass shootings alongside Neki Mohan, a WPLG anchor; Lance Dixon, a reporter at “New Tropic;” and Tania Francois, a WFOR assignment desk editor.

The South Florida Black Journalists Association (SFBJA) website states the mass shooting statistics for Florida during the past two years. “While the United States has only about 5 percent of the world’s population, our country has more than 30 percent of reported mass shootings. And South Florida has been home to several Mass Shootings including the Fort Lauderdale Airport shooting and the Parkland shooting.The deadliest shooting in 2016 occurred at the Pulse nightclub of Orlando (49 killed), which followed by less than ten years the Virginia Tech massacre (32 killed), and the Sandy Hook shooting (27 killed).”

“It’s an unfortunate reality for today’s journalists that we have to prepare for mass shooting coverage,” – Lulu Ramadan

The panelists, who spoke at the annual SFBJ career fair, shared insight on covering mass tragedies, particularly the Feb. 14 deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. More than 300 people attended the career fair, while more than a dozen engaged in the panel discussion from the audience.

“It’s an unfortunate reality for today’s journalists that we have to prepare for mass shooting coverage,” Ramadan said. “It’s helpful to talk about with peers and professionals to get advice and guidance. I learned quite a bit from my peers and was glad to share what I could with future journalists.”

The panelists offered tips on tackling mass shootings from multiple angles, and self-care for journos who face these tragedies. Ramadan, who has covered three Florida mass shootings, shared insight on how young reporters can find information and sources amid the chaos. The Society of Professional Journalists’ website offers a Journalists Toolbox “School Violence and Covering Mass Killings” page for resources connected to mass shootings including support for journalists and resources from past news coverage.

The engaged audience posed questions to panelists about how newsrooms tackle mass casualty reporting given the frequency of such events, the best ways to approach sources and how social media can be used as a tool to discover and deliver information.

Marjority Douglas Stoneman High School Qull photo
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School protested along with thousands of students and parents in Washington, D.C., spring 2108. Quill photo

SPJ’s Quill magazine also covered the student journalists of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida, and their support of advocacy journalism.

“Obviously you can find a million journalists who are like, ‘This happened, this happened, this happened, done.’ But we’re trying to use our roles that are so personal to us and that separate us.” – Quill magazine, Rebecca Schneid, editor-in-chief of the Eagle Eye student newspaper

“I think that’s what makes our publication so special,”  said Rebecca Schneid, editor-in-chief of the Eagle Eye, the student newspaper. “Obviously you can find a million journalists who are like, ‘This happened, this happened, this happened, done.’ But we’re trying to use our roles that are so personal to us and that separate us. Obviously we’re very skilled, but you could find other people writing about it but they don’t have the raw emotion.”

SPJ Florida logo

SPJ Florida

SPJ Region 3 logo

Society of Professional Journalists

SizingUpTheSouth.com

Facebook.com/SPJRegion3

Twitter  @spj_3