We Listened to ‘The Tapes’

But here’s why we’re not publishing them.

Photo by Gary Jeanfaivre.
Photo by Gary Jeanfaivre.

The first sound from the Newtown Dispatch 911 tapes brought me right back to that cold December morning in Sandy Hook—that day that changed everything and all of us forever.

I was immediately overcome with sadness, sitting in my car in the parking lot of Target in Bethel on Wednesday afternoon. But I listened to each audio clip. All seven of them. My editors listened to them too.

At Patch, we believe in public information and our role as journalists in disseminating it, so we had to listen to the tapes. It’s our job.

But nothing in the 911 tapes tells us anything we don’t already know.

The teachers, administrators and faculty at Sandy Hook School acted heroically in the face of terrifying evil. Our first responders got there moments after the first 911 calls were made. And, clearly, the police officers, teachers and students will be scarred for life by what they heard and saw that day.

I know there are many folks—especially in Newtown—who will never listen to the tapes. They couldn’t possibly bear to relive those few minutes before our sense of security was shattered, before 26 beautiful lives, including 20 children, were senselessly taken.

I still wonder why. And how. How could someone do this? Why would someone do this?

We will likely never fully know.

In about a week we’ll mark the one-year anniversary of the tragedy. In some ways it seems much longer. In others, it feels like yesterday.

The emotional wounds are still very real; we are fragile, a little broken, but slowly healing—individually and collectively.

And for us at Newtown Patch—as members of this community and journalists who are more dedicated than ever to serving our local audience—publishing the tapes just doesn’t feel right.

Jennifer Chaudhary December 05, 2013 at 03:54 PM
Thank you.
Carolyn Farr December 05, 2013 at 04:15 PM
As a former Patch employee, I am so proud of this decision. Gary, you've done an incredible job in covering this story for Newtown Patch. My prayers are with the community as it continues to heal.
Thomas Crafts December 05, 2013 at 05:39 PM
We listened to the tapes too. They are everywhere but the patch.
David Freedman December 05, 2013 at 07:20 PM
Thank You for respecting our families and our community.
Richard Hooker December 05, 2013 at 08:32 PM
Glad the patch didn't publish them...very surprised they did not, considering all the horrible comments we see all the time, that they allow. Glad they didn't walk the path of the Danbury News Times. DISGUSTING paper.
Susan December 06, 2013 at 07:07 AM
Thank you..you said it all!
Katie December 06, 2013 at 12:53 PM
Thank you.


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