In re: Tragedy

n2318678125_36514.jpgThere isn’t much I can add to the massacre at Virginia Tech where at least 32 students were murdered by a classmate yesterday. I learned the news at work and was numbed by the numbers and the horror. I still remember 9/11 and my feelings on that frightful day and possibly because of that I turned to my undergraduate colleges website, also a Virginia public school to learn how they were dealing with the tragedy.

Unfortunately I don’t think there really is a good way to prevent these types of senseless, crazy, random, acts of horror. While reports are now coming out about the supposed killers writings, attitude in classes, etc. it is really just too much to think that we will be able to pick out ahead of time those who are merely suffering from a tough saga in their life and those who will do the unthinkable. Inevitably people will talk security, the problems with VTs response to the mornings shootings, VAs gun laws, but the reality is that if someone sets out to do this, we unfortunately are going to have a difficult time stopping them.

I found an interesting article on Slate that looked ahead to what media criticism will likely be forthcoming and looks at the difficulty in reporting on tragedy, why our media goes into full force on them, especially for senseless tragedy…

“A commuter jet falls out of the sky in Indiana, killing 32 people. It’s a big story, but reporters don’t fan out across the land to collect the sorrows of the surviving families. The topic doesn’t fill the entire news hole. But if a student slays 32 young innocents, the press goes into overtime. Why should only the latter calamity rise to the level of a national obsession?

Because not all random, tragic deaths are equally horrifying. We handle accidental deaths by blaming fate, and then eventually make our peace. But murders committed at random discompose us at a primal level. They rob us of the false sense of security we use each night to tuck our children in to sleep.” –Slate ‘In Praise of Insensitive Reporters: We’d hate them even more if they didn’t overcover the VT story

The other aspect of the story that is extremely interesting (and that Slate also wrote upon)is the way ‘new media’ that being the internet, blogs, facebook, myspace, etc. were involved in the development of the story.  Some students put out early coverage of the events on their online journals, becoming the primary early sources and leading journalists to pounce upon their posts, seeking interviews and comments from these folks.  In the comments of one such journal posters blasted the journalists who sought to exploit the situation, but one poster pointed out the rare opportunity to report from inside an event.  “Sitting in his dorm room, Bryce experienced a new kind of 15 minutes: writing in what had yesterday been a near-private journal and had now become a soapbox to the world. He was willing to talk to the media. But other students were not—after their entries were discovered, they rapidly set their journals and MySpace pages to friends-only.” (see here for story)

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