| Media |

School shooting in Finland treated as breaking news in Denver

Nine people have reportedly died in a shooting at the Kauhajoki, Finland school seen here.
Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

During their 5:30 a.m. news segment, channels 4 and 9 announced a "BREAKING NEWS" item -- but as it turned out, the news broke a long way from here. It involved reports of a school shooting in Kauhajoki, Finland, a community 180 miles northwest of Helsinki, that left nine people dead.

Should this incident have warranted the treatment it got in Denver? Well, these days, TV news programs frequently trot out their breaking-news graphics for events that take place nationally or internationally -- but usually only when there's a gripping live shot of a fire, an ongoing hostage standoff or the like. In this case, however, no video was available -- just the still photo of the school, seen above. Yet every local viewer undoubtedly understood why the broadcasters jumped on the story so quickly: the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School. And indeed, there's a potential Columbine link to the Finnish tragedy, albeit a minor one.

The connection? Media outlets in Finland have associated YouTube clips of a man firing a gun with the killings -- and the user listed footage from Columbine among his favorite videos.

Of course, even if this factoid hadn't surfaced in early reports, the stations would have made the leap themselves. That's the way it's been for nearly a decade. Even though far too many school shootings have happened since then, including the Virginia Tech assaults of a couple years back that yielded an even more horrific body count, "Columbine" remains the first word that comes to mind whenever a school shooting takes place -- especially in these parts.

Outlets from elsewhere kept the attack in perspective. During National Public Radio's 6 a.m. news update, for instance, the Kauhajoki report was the very last item in the segment. On Denver TV, however, it moved right to the top of the charts. -- Michael Roberts

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.