‘Newtown Bee,’ WSHU Partner On 12/14 Tribute ‘Still Newtown’
UPDATE (Monday, December 5, 2022): This article has been updated to include the address for the podcast.
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FAIRFIELD — On December 5, WSHU Public Radio with media partner The Newtown Bee will launch an 11-part podcast series called “Still Newtown,” chronicling the life of the Newtown community a decade after the fatal shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Insightfully reported and deeply researched, the podcast reveals a community’s strength and resilience since the shootings that took the lives of 20 children and 6 educators.
The podcast can be listened to at wshu.org/podcast/still-newtown.
While outsiders have sought to tell the story of this tragedy, “Still Newtown” seeks to elevate local voices and allow the residents to Newtown to tell their own stories.
Reflecting on the collaboration between the radio station and local newspaper, “Still Newtown” veteran WSHU reporter and series creator/narrator Davis Dunavin explained, “We knew the only way to tell this story right was to ask for the help and partnership of the local journalists who have told it for Newtowners.”
“The Newtown Bee has given us invaluable advice, guidance and local perspective,” said Dunavin, who covered 12/14 in 2012 for an online media site. “Every person is different, but The Bee knows how the Newtown community feels — and what the community needs.”
The series features 11 episodes, each interwoven with interviews and firsthand accounts of Newtown residents including former Sandy Hook School students who were present that day, grieving parents who lost their children, and faith leaders who helped guide the community.
WSHU Senior Director of News and Education Terry Sheridan pointed out that Dunavin has been working on this project since the beginning of 2022.
“Davis put together a team that includes journalists from across the country — some of whom were affected by trauma in their own communities — along with interns, fact checkers, and sensitivity editors,” Sheridan added. “I’m proud of the thoughtful and sensitive way this team has reported on the community’s story.”
WSHU General Manager Rima Dael said, “One of the most important tenets of our work is to bear witness: to record evidence and show proof that something exists and is true.”
“The national discourse around Sandy Hook was clouded by misinformation and sensational headlines,” Dael noted. “WSHU Public Radio was honored to partner with The Newtown Bee to tell this story and center the voices of the Newtown community. Together, we created a thoughtful narrative to reflect on the town’s resilience over the past ten years.”
The series features 11 episodes, each following a theme:
*"In the Midst of That Morning."
In the preamble to the series, survivors who are now freshmen in college and a mother who lost her young daughter remember December 14, 2012.
*"Please Care About This."
Two young former Sandy Hook students grow into advocates against gun violence when they are old enough to know how.
*"The Isle of Skoo."
A puppet show about a six-year-old lighthouse keeper allows a mother to keep her son’s memory alive and help other children deal with complicated emotions.
*"Squeezing the Lemon."
Sandy Hook students went back to the classroom a month after the tragedy. Trauma specialists and experts stepped in to help.
A Sandy Hook victim wrote a message on his family’s chalkboard. It helped his mother create a school program that’s used around the world.
*"Humble and Kind."
A father and daughter bond over music after the death of a beloved family member.
*"Not Defined by One Day."
The tragedy is undeniably central to Newtown’s history, and the town will be forever associated with the name “Sandy Hook.” But Newtowners want the world to know they are not solely defined by that day.
*"What You Say Will Live Forever."
How do you cover a story like Sandy Hook or Robb Elementary? What role should journalists play?
A journalist who covered both tragedies offers a sobering perspective.
"Tell All Your Friends That I Am Kind."
A grieving mother created an animal sanctuary to honor her animal-loving daughter.
"How the Light Gets In."
Many Newtown residents turned to their faith leaders after the tragedy. One became a prison chaplain to work on rehabilitation. Another postponed retirement to see the community through another few years.
Newtown received a staggering number of gifts from around the world. They cremated them and now that “sacred soil” is part of the recently-opened permanent memorial that honors those killed that Friday morning ten years ago.
“I’ve had immense respect for The Newtown Bee for nearly a decade — ever since I worked alongside them covering stories in Newtown, and saw how much they know and care about this community,” Dunavin said. “There was never any question in my mind that they’d help us tell this story with the kind of knowledge and sensitivity that they’ve brought to their own reporting for nearly a century and a half.”
Newtown Bee Editor John Voket said he was familiar with Dunavin and his work both on the web and as a broadcaster.
“While I was seldom happy with the way The Newtown Bee and its staff have been represented in most of the 12/14-related reporting since that horrible day, I knew Davis and have great respect for the work he and WSHU do covering local community news,” Voket said. “After a few conversations with him, I knew he shared my commitment to ensuring this series reflected the same level of thoughtfulness and tact that our Bee staff has applied to virtually everything we have covered and produced related to the Sandy Hook tragedy.”
All episodes are available for download, and are accessible on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and all major streaming platforms.
The series is supported in part by a grant from CT Humanities.