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Stoneman Douglas Student Journalists Tell Their Own Story After School Shooting
Ian Witlen

Stoneman Douglas Student Journalists Tell Their Own Story After School Shooting

In the days after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, student-journalist David Hogg quickly rose to prominence for interviewing classmates while hiding from the gunman in a dark closet.

But he wasn't the only student to begin covering the awful story as he lived it. From the moment the fire alarms went off and the gunfire began February 14, members of the school's student newspaper, the Eagle Eye, were taking photos and videos they quickly shared online.

Since then, writers and editors for the paper have been telling their school's postmassacre story themselves. They covered a vigil and a visit from a Columbine survivor. They've also given interviews and written op-eds for other publications. Now they're planning a special issue to commemorate the 17 victims of last week's tragedy.

“This is the way I let out my feelings,” Eagle Eye staffer Nikhita Nookala told Columbia Journalism Review, “and how I feel like I’m making an impact on Douglas and on the community.”

As the students continue following the story, they launched a fundraiser last week on GoFundMe to help support their work. The money will be used for the special issue, and any extra cash will go toward new equipment for the school's journalism program, according to Eagle Eye adviser Melissa Falkowski.

More than $2,800 had been raised as of this morning.

The day of the shooting, some of the first videos of what was happening inside the school came from the student-journalists. One of them posted videos of a SWAT team clearing a classroom, students leaving the school with their arms raised, and a line of ambulances on the street outside.

A few days later, the Eagle Eye published its first story about what had happened. Even as the students sprang into action after the shooting, the story was difficult for them to tell because they were survivors themselves. Nookala and Christy Ma, a staff editor, worked together to write the first article, which was published February 18.

"Valentine’s Day was a day of love, passion and friendships as Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School celebrated Feb. 14, 2018 with carnations and teddy bears," the story begins. "It was not until nearly the end of the school day at around 2:30 p.m. that the lives of students and faculty were taken in a violent rampage of hatred."

For some of those who work on the paper, journalism is another way, along with rallies, marches, and speeches, to try to prevent another shooting from happening on a school campus.

“One of my newspaper editors texted me that night after everything happened,” Falkowski told Columbia Journalism Review. “And she said, ‘We are going to use the newspaper to change the world.’”

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