We launched Since Parkland with a simple mission in mind: to tell the stories of nearly 1,200 children and teens who were shot and killed in America in the year following the Parkland massacre. We worked with student journalists to write the profiles because young people in the U.S. are contending with gun violence every day, navigating the threat of gunfire in their neighborhoods, and participating in regular lockdown drills at school. Gun violence is their story to report.
When the project went live in February in partnership with the Miami Herald, McClatchy newspapers, and NowThis News, the profiles were organized in categories that showed these children and teens as more than just statistics: They were athletes, musicians, siblings, college-bound seniors, young parents, community volunteers, dancers, artists, and more.
But one category, “Stories Left to Tell,” housed profiles of more than 100 young victims whose hobbies, talents, and aspirations remained unknown. Some of them were killed too close to the launch of the project for the student journalists to have time to report them out. Other victims landed in the category because they had left no discernible digital trail. But the majority of the incomplete profiles — most of them were of black and brown teenagers between the ages of 16 and 18 — remained unfinished because the media coverage we relied on to seed our reporting was so scant.
Over the summer, we assembled a team of 10 of the teen journalists who powered Since Parkland to correct that.
The young reporters were dogged in their search for sources and tips. They reached out to coaches, classmates, and neighbors. They sent Instagram DMs to cousins, best friends, and significant others. They listened to victims’ SoundCloud songs and watched their YouTube videos. They spent hours on the phone with grieving brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers. They identified previously unknown victims and in multiple cases found the correct spellings of names mangled by initial reports.
By September, they added humanizing detail to 85 profiles, resulting in stories like these: