COMMENTS: Blanket Coverage in Blacksburg

The saturation coverage of the shooting spree on the campus at Virginia Tech continued unabated. All three newscasts were anchored from Virginia. All three extended their format to a full hour (for consistency's sake Tyndall Report monitored only the regular first half hour). All three ignored all other news except Monday's shooting. It accounted for a total of 54 minutes of coverage, fully 96% of the three-network newshole.

The university assembled to mourn in convocation. "Shock and utter grief has enveloped this campus," CBS' Katie Couric commented. The crowd filled the campus basketball arena indoors and overflowed into the football stadium outside. The ceremonies ended with the school cheer Let's Go Hokies!" Couric called it "evidence of hope and spirit." A candlelight vigil was to be held at sunset. Psychology professor Russell Jones taught CBS' Thalia Assuras how wounds should be healed: "The best predictor of a good recovery is social support."

President George Bush attended, to convey condolences on behalf of the nation. ABC's David Muir summed up the students' mood: "They needed this. They needed to hear that the nation and the President understood their pain." Bush told NBC's Brian Williams that the "shock and the suddenness and the location" made these deaths more traumatic than the civilian deaths of September 11th, 2001, or than the military deaths of the war in Iraq.


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