Producer: "Stories don't just go away after we finish"

Why 60 Minutes producer Henry Schuster decided to revisit the Newtown massacre four years after his first report

CBS All Access
This video is available on CBS All Access

This week, 60 Minutes revisited the painful story of school children murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. Producer Henry Schuster explained the decision in an interview with 60 Minutes Overtime.

"Stories don't just go away after we finish our pieces," Schuster says. "When we think the story is over -- when the people at home think the story is over -- it isn't. In some cases, it's just beginning."

Schuster and Scott Pelley first met parents of Sandy Hook victims a few months after the shooting for a report that aired on 60 Minutes in April of 2013. This past April, the same 60 Minutes team returned to Newtown to see how the victims' families were doing four years later. 

The story was Schuster's idea, but he says 60 Minutes had no hesitation; in fact, 60 Minutes' executive producer Jeff Fager was "adamant" that they stay on the story, says Schuster.

"We, the public, like neat and tidy endings," Schuster says. But it's difficult for many of the families of Newtown victims to see the American public move on, he says.

Jimmy Greene, father of 6-year-old murder victim Ana Grace, told 60 Minutes: "There have been those that have said things like, 'You know, so you guys are good now?' Or 'I hope you've had some closure to your daughter's murder.' Many just don't understand that there will never be closure."

"Going back," Schuster explains, "is a way to understand that."

In the four years since the shooting, the Newtown families who spoke to 60 Minutes went through plenty of changes: new careers, new relationships, divorces -- and births. At least one family decided to have another child.

"What does it take for his parents to bring another life into the world, when they've been through such hell?" Schuster says. "It takes optimism. It takes a view of the world that says, you know, we're going to persevere."

David and Francine Wheeler lost their 6-year-old son, Ben.      CBS News

Many families have also established so-called legacy foundations, organizations created in their loved one's name. In honor of her son Ben, Francine Wheeler created the organization Ben's Lighthouse, which helps the youth of Newtown. In honor of her daughter Ana Grace, Nelba Márquez-Greene established The Ana Grace Project, training educators how to intervene with children who have mental health issues. In many cases, the legacy foundations are dedicated to preventing another Sandy Hook.

Journalists have an obligation to stay connected to these grieving families, says Scott Pelley -- and to remember their children.

"It's incumbent upon us to say, 'Wait a minute. Remember this. This happened. These people existed, and we owe them something,'" Pelley says. "We owe them the honor of being remembered."

The video above was originally published on April 16, 2017, and produced by Will Croxton, Ann Silvio and Lisa Orlando. It was edited by Will Croxton and Lisa Orlando.