Out of Darkness Comes Light

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Out of Darkness Comes Light

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The shooting at Virginia Tech is undeniably one of the worst tragedies American students have ever faced. Stories of heroism make their way out of the situation, but the media is focused on the death and destruction caused on the campus of Virginia Tech University. One thing, however, should give Virginia Tech students, and Americans throughout the country, something to be proud of. In the absence of professional newsmen, students took control of the media, showing an unprecedented ability to shape the coverage regarding their event.

In the wake of the worst campus massacre ever in the United States, dozens of news organizations flocked to Virginia to cover the tragedy. Before they arrived, however, the mainstream media relied on reports from those already on the ground: the college students themselves. Armed with the video and still cameras on their mobile phones, dozens of students set out to create their own coverage of an incident that was very much their own. The first audio and video accounts of the incident aired by CNN came from <a onclick="javascript:urchinTracker (&#39;/outgoing/www.cnn.com/exchange/&#39;);" href="http://www.cnn.com/exchange/" title="iReport">iReport</a>, their citizen journalism program. The video, shot on a Nokia smartphone, made its way around the networks, all courtsey of a Virginia Tech student named <a onclick="javascript:urchinTracker (&#39;/outgoing/www.cnn.com/2007/US/04/16/vtech.witness/index.html?eref=rss_topstories&#39;);" href="http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/04/16/vtech.witness/index.html?eref=rss_topstories" title="Jamal Albarghouti">Jamal Albarghouti</a>.</p>
<p>Dozens of similar stories are to be told. In the hours preceding the arrival of professional reporters, Virginia Tech students had, unfortunately, the opportunity to shape the world&#8217;s news. Their coverage helped to show the world how terrible the massacre was and helped to qualm some fears about students that were safe. <a onclick="javascript:urchinTracker (&#39;/outgoing/www.twitter.com&#39;);" href="http://www.twitter.com">Twitter</a>, a &#8220;stream of consciousness&#8221; blogging tool by <a onclick="javascript:urchinTracker (&#39;/outgoing/obvious.com/&#39;);" href="http://obvious.com/">Obvious Corp</a> (utilized mostly by web celebrities such as <a onclick="javascript:urchinTracker (&#39;/outgoing/www.twitter.com/scobleizer&#39;);" href="http://www.twitter.com/scobleizer">Robert Scoble</a> and <a onclick="javascript:urchinTracker (&#39;/outgoing/www.twitter.com/thomashawk&#39;);" href="http://www.twitter.com/thomashawk">Thomas Hawk</a>), served constant updates to the internet, courtesy of a user named <a onclick="javascript:urchinTracker (&#39;/outgoing/twitter.com/tmarkiewicz&#39;);" href="http://twitter.com/tmarkiewicz">Tom Markiewicz</a>. <a onclick="javascript:urchinTracker (&#39;/outgoing/www.twitter.com/chrispirillo&#39;);" href="http://www.twitter.com/chrispirillo" title="Chris Pirillo">Chris Pirillo</a>, a web celebrity in his own right, helped to stream live coverage with a tool called <a onclick="javascript:urchinTracker (&#39;/outgoing/www.ustream.tv&#39;);" href="http://www.ustream.tv">UStream.tv</a>. His <a onclick="javascript:urchinTracker (&#39;/outgoing/ustream.tv/chrispirillo/videos/bhi33KQS7tCNS,Bbhi,w1w&#39;);" href="http://ustream.tv/chrispirillo/videos/bhi33KQS7tCNS,Bbhi,w1w">conversation with Planet Blacksburg,</a> a new student-run publication from Virginia Tech, captured nationwide attention as sections were <a onclick="javascript:urchinTracker (&#39;/outgoing/www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8_X5PaDRhE&#39;);" href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8_X5PaDRhE">aired on various evening news programs</a>.

What most surprised me, however, was the caliber and tenacity of the coverage coming from the students themselves at Virginia Tech. Via the aforementioned <a onclick="javascript:urchinTracker (&#39;/outgoing/www.planetblacksburg.com/&#39;);" href="http://www.planetblacksburg.com/">Planet Blackburg</a>, they helped to broadcast news of the tragedy throughout the world, becoming the go-to site for immediate updates. The Web2.0 movement, which many experts see as a bubble ready to burst, finally showcased its effectiveness yesterday. YouTube has showed its staying power by drawing users in to watch videos on their website. The entire citizen journalism movement, however, displayed its prominence yesterday with the Virginia Tech shooting. Never, in years past, would internet surfers be granted the same hard-hitting coverage as Planet Blacksburg provided yesterday.

In this day and age, everyone is a reporter. Yesterday, as CNN broadcast video from a student&#8217;s cellphone video, and as Planet Blacksburg updated faster than the almighty network news, it became apparent. The &#8220;new media&#8221; is here to stay, and, from the looks of it, it&#8217;s ready to provide better coverage than had ever been imagined. The shooting at Virginia Tech has caused incredible sadness and grief. It has, however, caused something else: the birth of a new generation of reporters.

<em>News of the incident continues to stun the staff here at New School Politics. In the coming days, we&#8217;ll be doing everything we can to help, but for the moment, the best we can do is to give our condolences to those involved in the tragedy at Virginia Tech. On April 30th, we&#8217;ll be participating in <a onclick="javascript:urchinTracker (&#39;/outgoing/www.onedayblogsilence.com&#39;);" href="http://www.onedayblogsilence.com" title="One Day Blog Silence">One Day Blog Silence</a>, a day of quiet on the blogosphere dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives in this terrible tragedy.</em>

Date : 19 April 2007
Categories : Liberal Content, media, culture, education, tragedy, web2.0, Virginia Tech

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Originally posted by Zach Sims on the New School Politics blog:
<a href="http://www.newschoolpolitics.com/liberal-content/out-of-darkness-comes-light/">http://www.newschoolpolitics.com/liberal-content/out-of-darkness-comes-light/</a>

Licensed under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/">Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License</a>.

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Zach Sims

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2007-05-10

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Brent Jesiek

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eng

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Zach Sims, "Out of Darkness Comes Light," in The April 16 Archive, Item #152, http://www.april16archive.org/items/show/152 (accessed September 1, 2014).