‘Reporting Roseburg’: Through journalists’ eyes

19 journalists spoke about their coverage of the UCC shooting

Students, staff and faculty are evacuated from Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore. after a deadly shooting Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (Michael Sullivan /The News-Review via AP)
Students, staff and faculty are evacuated from Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore. after a deadly shooting Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (Michael Sullivan /The News-Review via AP)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – “…Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine. The conversation in the aftermath of it. We’ve become numb to this. We talked about this after Columbine and Blacksburg, after Tucson, after Newtown, after Aurora, after Charleston. …”

For some reason, I kept the transcript of President Obama’s remarks in the hours after the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg. We got the transcript in an email shortly after he delivered them around 3:30 p.m. Pacific Time. I printed them out and they sat on my desk. Sometime that night, I tacked them up on the board at my desk in the KOIN newsroom.

And they’ve stayed there ever since.

Reporting Roseburg: The Journalists’ Narrative

A few months after the rampage at UCC took 10 lives — including the shooter — and wounded 8 more, Lori Shontz and Nicole Dahmen from the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication contacted me. They were working on a documentary about how the shooting at Roseburg was covered by various news organizations. They asked if I would talk with them, and I was honored to do so.

(L-R, Top to Bottom) Jonathan Bach, the Daily Beast; Rachael McDonald, KLCC; Andrew Greif, The Oregonian; John Sepulvado, OPB and CNN; Chelsea Gorrow, the Register-Guard; Tim Steele, KOIN were among the 19 journalists interviewed for the documentary, "Reporting Roseburg" (Courtesy)
(L-R, Top to Bottom) Jonathan Bach, the Daily Beast; Rachael McDonald, KLCC; Andrew Greif, The Oregonian; John Sepulvado, OPB and CNN; Chelsea Gorrow, the Register-Guard; Tim Steele, KOIN were among the 19 journalists interviewed for the documentary, “Reporting Roseburg” (Courtesy)

They spoke with 19 journalists talking about their day, their reporting process, their emotional reactions, what they learned. The result is “Reporting Roseburg.”

In its current form, it’s not a standard documentary. Rather, it’s individual vignettes divided into topics covered in their interviews. What emerged is a powerful look into how we work, what we do and how we’re affected.

Anyone who is in journalism for any length of time develops a thick skin by necessity. There isn’t a day goes by when someone doesn’t question our ancestry, our ethics (or lack thereof), our motives.

That’s OK. It comes with the territory. As long as I can look my other professional colleagues in the eye and at myself in the mirror and believe I/we did the right thing, I’m fine with whatever public criticism comes.

What “Reporting Roseburg” does is to peel back the curtain and show the internal angst each of us feels when covering any story, particularly one as horrific as the events of October 1, 2015.

Watch this or don’t. But know that, wherever you get your professionally-provided news, the wildly imperfect humans bringing it to you do the absolute best we can.