In the aftermath of the shootings at Virginia Tech, there was A LOT of media coverage. When I initially wrote about my feelings on the event, I mentioned how it was too soon to talk about certain aspects, namely the media’s coverage and how the university handled the situation. I’m going to use this post to briefly address both of these items, and hopefully end on a positive note.
There was a ton of media coverage of the event. In fact, when my family was down to move Murray out, nearly a full month later, they were interviewed by a reporter for a west coast newspaper (I can’t remember which one). By all accounts, the days on campus following the shootings were chaotic, to say the least. There were good and bad aspects of the media’s coverage. As an alumni, the worst by far was the bloodthirsty attack on the university administration and university police. These two groups were pounced upon by local and national media alike, and the vilifying and scapegoating began.
Many (though certainly not all) students and alumni like me were horrified. Was this really the time for finger-pointing and accusations? Couldn’t we have a few weeks, or even days to grieve the loss of our brothers and sisters? Couldn’t we have some time to remember those who were lost, and the countless gifts they may have given to Virginia Tech and the world? The Virginia Tech students, faculty, and staff spoke for many alumni who couldn’t speak when they gave President Steger a long, loud, and unspeakably touching ovation when he took the podium at the convocation. They said so much with that ovation. We support you. We appreciate you. Hang in there – it’s tough, we know.
It hurt me so much when someone I was speaking to on April 17 spoke disparagingly of the University, going so far to refer to the administration and police as the “keystone cops”. Certainly when an event of this magnitude happens, questions will be asked, and rightfully so. There will apparently be a full examination of how events on the 16th were handled, and they are absolutely correct to do so. But to begin a witch hunt when there were so many other facts that needed to be reported was irresponsible, and the members of the press who took part in it should be ashamed.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. There are journalists out there – young and upcoming journalists – who reported with professionalism. The Collegiate Times, the Virginia Tech student newspaper, contained some of the best and most informative writing regarding the tragedy. And it hasn’t just been Internet opinion-hacks like me who have noticed. The Burlington Free Press wrote this article regarding the Collegiate Time’s journalism, and this article from Editor & Publisher went so far as to mention them in the same breath with the Pulitzer prize. I’m sure that other people also noticed.
So my hat is off to the journalism provided by the student newspaper at Virginia Tech. They were a beacon of light during a dark couple of days and weeks. A bit dramatic? Yeah, definitely. But it doesn’t make it any less true.