CBS' Thalia Assuras encountered a group of freshmen friends "struggling against their worst fears." Assuras concluded: "The waiting seems to be worst of all--waiting to hear if friends will be found safe, waiting to hear the names of the victims." But both Assuras' colleague Daniel Sieberg and ABC's Bill Blakemore (subscription required) saw the other side of the coin: how the contemporary tech-savvy twentysomething is able to create ad hoc communications networks to disseminate "instant Internet reporting, of, by, and for the community closest to this tragedy," as Blakemore put it. He called cyberspace "the instinctive emergency gathering place" and quoted from the students' facebook.com postings--even this one: "If this is where all the news broadcasters are contacting me from, stop doing it!" Sieberg described e-mails and instant messages "as a lifeline to the outside world"--via a webcam interview through a student's laptop. The university's official Website was "overwhelmed" and "not always accessible." However, the student-run campus news site Planet Blacksburg was posting continual updates by noon, receiving up to 100,000 online visitors.
All three networks aired the Exclusive cell phone recording, courtesy of CNN, by graduate assistant Jamal al-Barghouti that captured the actual sounds of the gunfire. ABC's Kerley (subscription required) counted audio traces of 27 shots on the "scratchy" video.
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