Breaking News: Tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School


This is the kind of story no news organization wishes to encounter. It is also the kind of story that must be told and told in a manner that provides accurate reporting, important and useful information, and expanded analysis. These matters are especially important for those organizations closest to the story, organizations that are already a part of the community under duress. WVIT-TV in West Hartford, Connecticut, was that organization on December 14, 2012. Just before 10:00 a.m. that day, a fragmentary police scanner report indicated a shooting at a school. By 10:04 the station had confirmed, then reported, that the school was Sandy Hook Elementary. Thirty minutes later the station began coverage that lasted until midnight. Initially, it concentrated on providing details as they unfolded. When the full story emerged, the terrible details were announced in a stunned, yet compassionate, professional manner. WVIT continued, folding the NBC Nightly News and a special Dateline report into its coverage. Interviews with mental health professionals provided instruction and guidance on how the community might seek comfort, inform children and deal collectively with shock and grief. Throughout this day and days that followed, WVIT-TV’s coverage of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School embodied the meaning and significance of local broadcast news and for this receives a Peabody Award.


President and General Manager: David Doebler. Vice President of News: Mike St. Peter. Executive Producers: Sharon Butterworth, Ben Dobson, Darwin Guggenbiller, Katy Camp, Bob Connors, Phil Speliopoulos. Producers: Scott Beaulieu, Melanie Diaz, Katie Harris, Kristie Borges, Deanna Fry, Jennifer Sposato, Brooke Rakowski, LeAnne Gendreau. Assignment Editors: Danielle Poulin, Stephanie O’Connell, Amanda Beaulieu, Jennifer Pineiro, Alyssa Zauderer. Anchors: Brad Drazen, Shirley Chan, Lisa Carberg, Keisha Grant, Gerry Brooks. And the entire NBC Connecticut newsgathering team.