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Roanoke Paper Covers Virginia Tech Massacre Blog-Style -- 32 Dead

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Roanoke Paper Covers Virginia Tech Massacre Blog-Style -- 32 Dead

Article excerpt

The Roanoke Times, the closest daily paper to the Virginia Tech campus, has been covering the shooting of more than 30 students there on its Web site with updates to a blog-style story, with the first posted at 10:17 a.m. ABC News is now reporting 32 dead and more than 20 injured.

The Roanoke paper also provided photographs that the Associated Press moved nationally. One, showing police carrying injured students out of a building, appeared on the top of The New York Times site early this afternoon.

The latest from the scene: Two pistols were found near the still-unidentified shooter. One shooting took place at a dorm after 7 a.m., with two dead, the rest across campus where the rest died. Students are complaining that they were not warned quickly after the first shooting, and only belatedly by email.

Virginia Tech President Charles Steger said authorities believed that the shooting at the dorm was a domestic dispute and thought the gunman had fled the campus. "We had no reason to suspect any other incident was going to occur," he said.

He defended the university's handling of the tragedy: "We can only make decisions based on the information you had at the time. You don't have hours to reflect on it."

ABC News reported just before 2 p.m. that police said "the shooting may have been set off by an off-campus incident. Details were unclear....ABC News has confirmed that there were two separate bomb threats last week at Virginia Tech that targeted engineering buildings. The first was directed at Torgersen Hall, while the second was directed at multiple engineering buildings. Students and staff were evacuated, and the university had offered a $5,000 reward for information into the threats." Assistant Managing Editor Michael Stowe said staffers in the Roanoke paper's New River Valley office, just a few miles from campus, called in first word of the shooting at about 9:30 a.m. He said at least half a dozen reporters, a videographer, multimedia editor and three photographers are on scene. "That is a changing number," he told E&P by phone. He said the blog approach is the best way to move breaking news quickly. "We have found this works well," he said. "It won't stop as long as there is stuff coming in. Everyone is working."

The AP provides this history: "Up until Monday, the deadliest campus shooting in U.S. history took place in 1966 at the University of Texas, where Charles Whitman climbed to the 28th-floor observation deck of a clock tower and opened fire. He killed 16 people before he was gunned down by police. In the Columbine High bloodbath near Littleton, Colo., in 1999, two teenagers killed 12 fellow students and a teacher before taking their own lives."

The most recent blog/news postings at the Roanoke paper follow.


2:20 p.m.

One man was hanging out the window of a Norris Hall classroom when the gunman entered, according to freshman Douglas Cobb.

Cobb said that Jake Grohs, the resident assistant for the fourth floor of Peddrew-Yates residence hall, told him he climbed out the window of an engineering class as the gunman apparently made his way from room to room in Norris.

"He was in the room next door to the shooting" and decided to try climbing out the second-story window, Cobb said. "He was hanging out the window when the person came in" and heard people being shot, Cobb said. He said that four of six people who were in the room at that time where shot.

Grohs jumped out the window onto a hill and is OK, Cobb said. …

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