Virginia Tech Media Coverage: Extreme or Total Coverage?

April 19, 2007 at 9:31 pm (Uncategorized)

Rarely is an event as throughtly covered as the Virginia Tech tragedy. Nearly every news web page is plastered with stories related to the event, making the idea of “total coverage” overwhelming for many. Here, we’ll showcase what many news sources are making of this event and give you some perspective on exactly how much coverage is too much. When students want news, is still the ruling news source, and by far, the site has been the leader in coverage of this event. For example, the site has been cycling through images of victims for the past few hours:

Stories are emerging of the 32 extraordinary lives which ended in the horror and heroism of the Virginia Tech campus massacre. In this special report, families, friends, colleagues and classmates share poignant memories of those killed in the deadliest shooting in U.S. history. The people these stories speak of were characterized by great promise and outstanding achievement.

Additionally, CNN has front page links to related stories, which almost completely take up the top stories area. These links were all consectutive on the listing, and one would be hard pressed to find an angle they havent covered:

-Tech victim’s family fights to tell his story
-Columbine survivor: Emotional roller coaster ahead
-When is it OK to put a student away?
-Virginia Tech student hears of friend’s death via IM
And, of course, someone trying to pin the blame on video games:
-Survey: Violent video games ‘exhilarating’ escapism

…While even the entertainment pages contain stories related to the shooting:
-1 of killer’s photos resembles movie image


Most news paper sites are tossing their attention toward the shooting, while allowing attorney general Gonzalez’s to fall at a close second. has this headline and image as their front page, with the site clearly struggling for filler in their use of a “flip flop controversy” as the main regional story:





Flip flop flap attracts attention at Westford school
Flip flop flap attracts attention at Westford school
A principal’s attempt to discourage students from sporting
open-toed footwear kicked up controversy at the Stony Brook School. (Janet Knott / Globe Staff Photo)

Message Board YOUR VIEW: Flip flops at school?

Virginia Tech aftermath

Classmates: Shooter was laughed at

Their accounts could shed light on Cho’s state of mind. (AP, 5:06 p.m.)

Calif. school district closes for threat

Man barred from BU for threats










Not surprisingly, the coverage of the shooting is more heavily covered by the American news papers than their foreign counterparts. At the same time, it’s still a breaking story, and with that as such, even the front page is dusted with stories steming from the shooting. At this time, the breaking of the killer’s so called “video manifesto” is the front page story:












Virginia Police chief Steve Flaherty - 19/4/07

Police ‘regret’ at killer’s video

Officers probing the shootings at Virginia Tech say footage of killer Cho Seung-hui should not have been broadcast.

Virginia shootings: The victims

Transcript: Gunman’s message

open Video worries locals







This image was on the main page’s sidebar, with the caption:




Inside Cho’s mind
How Virginia Tech killer fits pattern of campus gunmen




Overall, the coverage of this event is certainly overwealming, and has certainly raised a lot of questions about tact and what proper journalistic practices are. If one looks at the evidence above, they can see that these things get out of hand faster than a fis full of jello. In the end, it’s up to the editor and the reader to decide what’s right and wrong, so what’s your opinion?


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