Media False Reports on the Tragedy at
Columbine High School
From the outset the media has
misreported a simple fact regarding the horrific tragedy at Columbine High School. Contrary to widespread
references in the media (both print and electronic) Columbine High School is NOT located
in Littleton, Colorado. It is located in unincorporated Jefferson County,
misreporting seems to have occurred because the postal service has assigned a Littleton
mailing address to Columbine High School. This assignation clearly does not change the
fact that the School is NOT located in Littleton (as is easily verifiable by reference to
a street map of the Denver metro area). Mailing addresses are determined for the
administrative convenience of the postal service. Much of unincorporated Jefferson County
(as far west as Kipling and Rt. #285) has a Littleton mailing addresses. This
does not mean those locations are any more "in" Littleton than is Columbine High
It seems that in their haste to get this story out the media found the mailing address of Columbine High School (perhaps in the telephone directory) and went no further in gathering accurate information on the location of the school. Although this initial error may be understandable in light of the confusion surrounding the event, when it became readily apparent that the school was not actually located within Littleton there seems to be a view amongst the media that "our reporting has been done -- don't contradict it with the facts otherwise we would have to admit to an error."
Having taught at the university level for 40 years I have seen many instances of media "spin" on the news, bias in reporting, selective reporting of facts and other examples of shoddy journalism. This is the first time, however, that I have seen clear and unassailable evidence of a flat refusal to report undeniable facts as they demonstrably exist. The arrogance of the media in continuing to report this misinformation is both shocking and troublesome. The defense of its position (that because Columbine has a Littleton mailing address it is thereby "in" Littleton) is nothing more than a weak, indeed patently absurd, justification of continuing dissemination of false information to the public. Moreover, this misinformation is not innocuous. The community of Littleton has had and continues to have its name and reputation falsely tainted with this terrible tragedy.