Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Another Thought on VT

I realize that LL has already talked about the mass shooting at VT, but as a fellow journalist how can you ignore this situation and talk about something else. I just can’t. Like LL I sat in front of my television this morning watching the TODAY show and had tears listening to the older brother of one of the victims. I could only imagine what I would be thinking about if I was in a similar situation with my little brother. My stomach sank.

But, as a journalist, rather than talk about how I feel, I want to raise many questions. What was the university thinking? Saying this could have been prevented may be a little too harsh, yet I, myself, think it could have. I always go by the saying, “It’s better to be safe than sorry.” The Virginia Tech president is currently saying he did not want to scare people coming on to campus at the time and did not want to shut down campus. First of all, I think it’s safe to say that campuses across the United States from here on out will be shut down if there is a shooting. But, the campus probably should have been shut down. Classes probably should have been cancelled right when the first shooting happened.

University officials are saying they were trying to figure everything out and investigating the situation. Why would they be sitting in a meeting and not informing students? I realize that I am just asking a lot of questions right now, but so many questions are unanswered.

If I were a student, or even my little brother was a student, at the university and the option was not even offered, I would be mad. That would be my immediate reaction to a situation. I believe students should have been informed immediately and then had the choice to make a decision of whether or not to go on to campus. In addition, sending out an e-mail two hours later and not making any calls was probably a mistake on the university’s part.

I was happy, however, with Matt Lauer’s interview this morning with Virginia Tech’s president. He did raise questions similar to this. I am with LL though. I am not sure I could have kept it together in something this tragic.

Another point I would quickly like to make… I think that websites have done a terrific job of updating their sites with new information. On many news sites, new information has been highlighted. I want to be glued to my TV right now, but I cannot be. This tactic is one I have never seen before, but it is easy for readers and people following the developing story to find the new facts. I do not know if this tactic will continue, but it seems like a good idea.

I would like to say finally, and the most important thing, that my thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims.


At Tuesday, April 17, 2007, Blogger ji said...

I agree that the coverage of this has covered every media medium--which bodes well for journalists. However, it is hard to report these stories and to set aside emotion while all hell is breaking loose. Surely, the university is at fault---talk about bad communication. I will say this, now that this information has surfaced (thanks to journalists investigating this) a lawsuit can be brought against this university for negligence. Perhaps if they would have informed students more would be alive today. What I definitely recognize in this situation is the pivotal role of the media: they raised important questions and are getting answers like the watchdogs they are supposed to be. The president of that university will definitely suffer at the hands of the media now after his lack of action has been uncovered.
I also think that sadly these events are becoming more commonplace. First Columbine...now this...oh and many other school shootings in between. What matters here is keeping this issue in the spotlight, raising awareness and maybe even influencing educational institutions at all levels to act on helping study body member cope psychology---because this is usual why a student decides to kill classmates.
Just like you AG and LL, I hope everyone, including educators and stressed out students are watching this and glued to the television or Internet because journalists are sending a message, atrocities of this nature are unacceptable, avoidable and absolutely tragic.

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