Virginia Tech shootings

Collegiate Times declined most media interviews to focus on covering Virginia Tech shooting
“We were getting flooded with calls,” Collegiate Times Editor-in-Chief Zach Crizer tells Poynter’s Mallary Tenore. “We told them our policy is to not give interviews to other media outlets during breaking news because we want all of our people to write for us. The New York Times offered the opportunity to contribute to a story (instead of interviewing us), so we got quotes for them and did some reporting.” In the end, some of the students did interviews with other news outlets. || Related: Newspaper’s Twitter account grew from 2,000 to 18,000 in hours (The New York Times) Read more

(Paul Kerlak/Virginia Tech)

Collegiate Times publishes special edition after Virginia Tech campus shooting

When Collegiate Times editor-in-chief Zach Crizer first heard about Thursday’s Virginia Tech shooting via a university alert, he ran to the scene with news editor Michelle Sutherland.

She talked with police while Crizer interviewed students and tweeted that the police officer who was shot had died. Photo Editor Daniel Lin, meanwhile, went to the parking lot where the second shooting had occurred.

In this photo taken by Paul Kurlak, police hold up a white sheet near the crime scene where an officer and second person were shot with the same gun.

“We had various people who we thought may have been eyewitnesses and we tried calling them,” Crizer said in a phone interview. “Eventually, cell phone service was so bad that it stopped and we couldn’t get through.”

Using social media to share updates, find sources

Crizer and Sutherland, who didn’t end up finding any eyewitnesses, posted frequent news updates from the Collegiate Times’ Twitter account. Read more

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Editor who led student coverage of 2007 Virginia Tech shooting has left journalism

In 2007, Amie Steele was editor-in-chief of the Collegiate Times, responsible for leading the team covering the shooting that killed 32 people.

At the time, NPR profiled her and the paper’s work.

“Collegiate Times editor-in-chief Amie Steele has gotten little or no sleep in the past 24 hours, but she’s still on fire,” said Larry Abramson. “The stars of the journalism firmament have alighted here. But this petite, 21-year-old junior is the busiest and the most popular. Her pink cell phone seldom leaves her ear.”

Steele’s journalism future was short; she worked at The Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., from May 2008 to February 2010. “The unfortunate economic status of newspapers had me head in another direction, and now I’m working for the Government Accountability Office in Washington, D.C.,” she told me. Read more


News orgs take to social media to find Va. Tech witnesses, photos

News organizations from around the country are using social media to locate witnesses and obtain interviews and photos of today’s campus shooting at Virginia Tech. “Call our newsroom if you know anyone that goes to Virginia Tech,” tweeted Buffalo, New York television station WKBW.  “Hey #vatech – looking to speak & get updates from students on campus,” wrote CBS News producer Joe Danielewicz. Meanwhile, the media pounced on a Flickr page of photos from the photo editor of the student newspaper, the Collegiate Times.The images of the crime scene and of police activity attracted requests for republication rights from CNN, the New York Post, NPR, Australia’s News Limited, and other news organizations. (The newspaper eventually posted contact information for media seeking reuse rights.) Read more

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Collegiate Times shifts publishing to Twitter, Facebook for shooting coverage

The website of Virginia Tech’s independent student newspaper, The Collegiate Times, struggled with traffic as people sought information on a campus shooting Thursday. For a while, the home page redirected to a sparsely designed “breaking news” page with a Twitter widget at the top and photos below. Shortly after 2 p.m. ET, the Times tweeted and posted to its Facebook page, “We are working to get our website back up. Just check Twitter and Facebook for constant updates.” The New York Times’ Brian Stelter tweeted, “Paper’s feed gained 10,000+ followers in 30 min.”

Later, the home page redirected to a fast-loading, WordPress-powered gallery of photos from the incident.

Mashable is updating a Storify with news and photos, including The Collegiate Times’ first tweets on the shooting. Read more

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Virginia Tech gunman sent “disturbing” material to NBC News
Sometime after he killed two people in a dormitory but before he fatally shot 30 more in a classroom building Monday morning, Cho Seung-Hui sent NBC News a rambling communication and videos about his grievances. The network turned the “disturbing” material over to the FBI and said it wouldn’t immediately disclose its contents. Read more


“We’re getting like 10 billion phone calls,” says VT editor

Los Angeles Times
Reporters for the Virginia Tech student newspaper, the Collegiate Times, continued to report and write stories even as phones failed and police evacuated them from their offices. “We knew there was going to be some kind of reliance on us, and we couldn’t let people down,” says managing editor Joe Kendall. Reporter Saira Haider, who lost a good friend in the massacre, says: “I don’t want to be biased — I just want to report. It is kind of hard to separate the two — the emotional side and the news side.”
> Ex-Collegiate Times staffer: It’s surreal to see this happening (Keynoter)
> Cable newscasts doing little but guessing and second-guessing (USAT)
> Bianculli: Cable news regained a bit of its focus, if not its soul (NYDN)
> CNN’s all-day average viewership of 1.4M was up 186% Monday (ChiTrib)
> Reporters at VT should be guided more by etiquette than ethics (Slate) Read more


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

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:

Read more

Another Sad but Seminal Day for CitJ

This morning’s shooting at Virginia Tech is destined to become one of those cornerstone events in citizen journalism and participatory media. When news breaks in a location where nearly everyone has a camera-equipped cell phone, and where Internet connectivity abounds, people on the spot will be supplying as much coverage as news organizations — if not more.

Doubtless in coming days we’ll be poring over the first-person blog entries, Twitter posts, forum discussions, Flickr photos, podcasts, moblogs, YouTube videos, and more from those unfortunate enough to be on that campus today. The most poignant content will get highlighted and examined; the harshest and most tasteless will get excoriated.

But I have no doubt that reports, images, and sound supplied by people on the spot today will play a key role in forming the public memory of this horror. Read more