Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech Reporting

Sometimes horrific events take place and in the interest of the public, journalists do their job and inform.

Today we faced another such event when a man walked onto the Virginia Tech University campus and chaos ensued with shooting in two location, two hours apart and a half mile apart.

Details are still being ironed out, but it appears what began as a domestic dispute escalated into a hostage situation that left 33 dead and hundreds more trying to put the puzzle together.

After I heard the news on the radio as I was driving to work, I logged onto The Roanoke Times just as I walked into the Santa Cruz Sentinel newsroom.

They were on top of their game. Videos, articles and pictures were up and new information was adding to updates throughout the day. And the reporting went much deeper than what I heard on the radio or would see on TV. The Roanoke Times was covering it from every angle in addition to the main news story with stories about student reactions, neighborhood churches mobilizing, the college's reaction, technologies role in students communication and eye witness reports.

As of right now, they're added a guest book, an interactive map of the events complete with a time line and e-mail excerpts and collections of all the videos and photos produced throughout the day.

I hadn't gotten around to looking up the college paper until just now, but it looks as if The Collegiate Times website had crashed under the weight of unexpected traffic, but they didn't let that keep them down.

A note on the temporary site reads, "Notice: The Collegiate Times main server is down. CollegeMedia.com is the website of our parent company." And they've managed to continue reporting the latest developments, and I would say to a better capacity than many reports I've read today.

Away from traditional news, social networking sites like Facebook set up pages for students to let people know they were okay and share accounts of the events, which some news outlets turned to (why not, a wise reporter uses everything, I've had success with Craigslist even) for potential interview subjects.

It's days like today that remind people like me how important protecting the news is and how we can be a true service for the public.

On another note, what is up with some of these leads I'm finding?

In the wake of the recent massacre at Virginia Tech University many college campuses across the U.S. are re-evaluating their security plan and Texas Tech is one of them.

I don't like to single one news source out like this, and I really did try to find similarly dreadful leads (although I did notice everyone was using 'massacre' in the first sentence... will this create a homogeneous consciousness of what we think happened before we learn all the facts?), but this is the only one that I ran across... and with that I ask, who are the editors letting this fly?

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