Friday, October 29, 2010

The Virginia Tech Shooting

The media played a huge roll in the story of the Virginia Tech Massacre. NBC found them selves’ part of the story when the shooter, Seung-Hui Cho, age 23, sent a package full of pictures, letters and videos of himself to NBC’s headquarters, between his two shootings on the Virginia Tech campus. NBC turned over all of the evidence to the police after they made copies for themselves of all the evidence. NBC aired a little over a minute of the 10-minute video rant of Cho talking. They also aired some of the photos that Cho took of himself holding guns and pointing them at the camera.

• If you were an editor at NBC when all this happened how would you have handled to situation?

• Would you have turned over all of the evidence to the police?

After all of information surrounding this case started to come out, parents were informed that students were not notified of the first shooting until after classes had begun for the day. Two of the families from the 32 students that were killed that day filled for a lawsuit against the state in hopes to revealing all of the facts on the day of the shooting. The two families that did not taking a settlement from the university are of Julia Pryde and Erin Peterson, who were both killed by gunman Cho. These two families presented enough facts that the university may have acted with gross negligence the day of the shooting.

The 46 families out of 48 gave up their right to sue when they signed the $11 million settlement, which included financial compensation, health benefits and meetings with university and police leaders and the governor. It also required the university to create an electronic archive with documents related to the shootings and make it available to families.

University officials from Virginia Tech disputed a U.S. Department of Education report that found the school in violation of a federal campus security law. The school did not notify students in a “timely manner” according to the Clery Act. The Clery Act was created in 1990 in memory of 19-year-old Jeanne Ann Clery, who was raped and killed after having been asleep in her dorm room at Lehigh University. The law requires colleges and universities to disclose information about crimes on or near their campuses.

There was also a new law that was put into effect after the Virginia Tech shooting. The new law authorizes up to $1.3 billion in federal grants to help states improve their background checks, National Instant Criminal Background Check System, on people who are purchasing guns, so people who are mentally unstable like Cho, are not able to purchase guns.

"The Virginia Tech killer should have been stopped at the gun store," Paul Helmke of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence said. "He was a prohibited purchaser. He had been found a danger to himself and others because of mental illness. Virginia did not send that information in."

Do you think the increased amount of funding for better background checks is going to be effective in future shootings?


  1. If I was an editor, I don't think I would have ran anything until a few days later rather than running it while people were still in turmoil from the shooting (that's not to say they wouldn't have been in turmoil a few days later anyway).

    Yes. I would have turned all of the evidence over to the police because it's a situation where the police would have helped. Of course, I would have ran it first.

    I do think an increased amount of funding would help. In fact, I think that everyone who owns a gun should be subject to a background check once a year.

  2. Beyond ethical issues in journalism, my question is this: Why didn't the Virginia Tech security force not evacuate the campus between 7 and 9:30 am, a two-hour period in which people could of been secured and brought to safety?