Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Students Tell Va. Tech Story Through Cell Video, Blogs, Forums

Resources for covering the shooting... Profile of rampage attackers.

By Al Tompkins (
(more by author ( )

If you ever had a doubt about how important it is for your
newsroom to be able to tap into user-generated content, the Virginia Tech story
will change that. Look at this collection from CNN's I-Report. (

Students text messaged one another while hiding under desks.
some of those messages here. (

In stories like this, journalists have to go to new places
to look online to find students talking to one another and sharing their
stories. Some
students are gathering on Facebook. ( ( has a
collection of cell pictures taken by students. More
than 150 tribute ( groups have formed on Facebook.

Other students went right to their blogs (
and wrote about what they saw.

When I went to ( , I found this collection:

A blog from reporters for The
Collegiate Times, Virginia Tech's campus newspaper. ( They started keeping it after the publication's Web page
crashed. The site contains stories from VT students, plus photos taken from
inside classrooms on campus.

A LiveJournal
blog written by someone described as a VT student named "Paul." (
The poster said his girlfriend was wounded in Norris Hall and received
treatment at Montgomery Regional Hospital
in Blacksburg.

Another student's LJ
blog, this one written by "Bryce," ( who said he was on campus
while the shootings took place.

A MySpace account written by a VT student ( who said he was on campus at the Schiffert Health Center
when the shootings began.

The Flickr
account of Roanoke Times photographer Alan Kim, ( including images of police
handcuffing a man and carrying victims out of Norris Hall.

One of several
discussion groups on Facebook ( dedicated to presenting first-person accounts
of the events on VT's campus.

Virginia Tech MySpace page ( , on which users from around the country are
showing their support through messages.

A Fark
message board ( filled with student reports of the shooting.

collection of e-mails from resident advisers ( and the university advising
students to stay indoors.

MTV also
is building connections ( to the college community through this blog page, on
which students can leave messages about the shooting.

Resources for Covering the Shooting

The Casey Journalism Center on Children and Families pulled together a collection including: (

Trauma source at Virginia Tech: Psychology professor Russell T.
Jones has expertise in psychological effects of trauma and natural disasters on
children. He has spoken at previous CJC conferences. 540.231.5934;

in Anti-Social Behavior and Risk of Violence Among Students (

Gun Issues
and Building Security (

in Child/Teen Mental Health and the Impact of Traumatic Events (

Facts on School-Related Violence (focused on secondary schools) (

The American Psychological Association also created a brochure to make young people aware of the "Warning
Signs of Youth Violence." (

Profile of Rampage Attackers

2000, The New York Times tracked ( the
backgrounds of more than 100 rampage killers to see if a profile emerged. That
story said:

They are not drunk or high on drugs. They are not racists or
Satanists, or addicted to violent video games, movies or music.

Most are white men, but a surprising number are
women, Asians and blacks. Many have college degrees, but most are unemployed.
Many are military veterans.

They give lots of warning and even tell people explicitly what
they plan to do. They carry semiautomatic weapons they have obtained easily
and, in most cases, legally.

They do not try to get away. In the end, half turn their guns on
themselves or are shot dead by others. They not only want to kill, they also
want to die.

That is the profile of the 102 killers in 100 rampage attacks
examined by The New York Times in a computer-assisted study looking back more
than 50 years and including the shootings in 1999 at Columbine
High School in Littleton,
Colo., and one by a World War II veteran on a
residential street in Camden,
N.J., in 1949. Four hundred
twenty-five people were killed and 510 people were injured in the attacks. The
database, which primarily focused on cases in the last decade, is believed to
be the largest ever compiled on this phenomenon in the United States.


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