Campus nightmare recounted in blogs, photos, videos

Everyone - especially those who are in any way associated with universities and academia - will be thinking about the recent events at Virginia Tech. I found this article useful in revealing the varied reactions of students, classmates and others to such a tragedy. It is interesting how blogs become a source of news, a means of communication, a symbol of friendship and a tactic for profit all at the same time. A sign of the times?

BLACKSBURG, United States (AFP) - Until Monday, when a gunman shot dead at least 30 Virginia Tech students and professors, Bryce's Journal on the blogosphere was all pictures of friends and fun. The latest chilling entry, dated Tuesday, April 17 at 8:35 am, says: "The list has begun. I read it and reread it, double-checking each name on Facebook to see if I could recognize any of them. I probably have seen them in a class, in a dining hall, crossing campus -- I saw the German teacher and immediately and desperately looked up a friend who is taking German class as my eyes began to water in anticipation. She was all right." "Rest in peace," reads LJ blog before going on to list the names of the dead.

As soon as news of the massacre broke, students turned to the web to communicate and journalists flocked to their weblogs in search of eyewitness accounts and cellphone and video reports. The medium too enabled The New York Times to point readers to its The Lede blog for quick updates while CNN ran amateur photos and videos from I-Reports, its recently launched citizen journalism initiative. Fox News ran user-generated photos and video reports while the local newspaper The Roanoke Times ran constantly updated online news items from hospitals, police, university officials and the students themselves.

"I never imagined that this is the way Virginia Tech would likely go down in history," said a former student and current MSNBC correspondent on the television network's website in an article titled "Not At My Alma Mater." The university itself, under the title "Tragedy at Virginia Tech," updated its page every few minutes, canceling classes for the week and at 9:15 am Tuesday identifying the South Korean gunman responsible for the Norris Hall fatalities -- Cho Seung-Hui, 23. In film shot with a cellphone by Jamal Albarghouti, a student near the hall at the time of the massacre, the sound of around 20 gunshots can be clearly heard in the 70 seconds of blurred images and sound.

Speculators eager to grab cash after the killings snatched up Internet domain names that could be searched for information about the shootings, The Roanoke Times reported. One man registered the killer's name,, and was offering it for one million dollars, as well as offering and for 250,000 dollars each, the newspaper said.

Surfing across the blogosphere, BickLickU shows footage of students deserting both the campus and the town itself, while offers students countrywide information on their friends and a guest book to the dead titled "Be Still." LiveJournal user Paul recounts how his friend was hit by a bullet to the hand, but on Tuesday asked reporters not to use his latest accounts. "There are way too many emotions flying around at this point." A day earlier, underlining the tension as the drama unfolded, he wrote: "Because of what's transpiring, my phone cannot connect to the network, it's constantly busy."

In a likewise eerie reminder of the events that took place, Bryce's Journal reported shortly before noon on Monday: "Safe and rather scared. My friends and I got out of class at about 9:50. Walked across campus. The wind blew with flurries about. Sirens were in the distance and I saw an undercover cop car go about 80 (miles per hour) down one of the drives. That was odd. In front one of the dorms, West AJ, were several police cars, lights off and parked. We started talking about how there are always situations that cops rush across campus for and we never hear about. Then several people walked by and told us there was a shooting and campus was closed. No one is allowed to cross the drillfield. Hmm. We went ahead to eat some food as cops were stationed in front, checking ID for everyone. I walked with my friend to his dorm to get his stuff as an omniscient announcement echoed across campus: 'This is an emergency. This is an emergency. Take shelter indoors immediately. Stay away from windows and remain inside.''' [source]
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