The saturation coverage of the first two days of the Virginia Tech story is starting moderate: day-by-day the three-network total spent on the story has gone from 62 minutes to 54 to 38 today. All three anchors returned from Virginia to their studios in New York and all three newscasts reverted to their regular half-hour format.
There is still a split decision on what to call the suicidal killer. NBC is sticking with Cho Seung-Hui. ABC is sticking with Seung-Hui Cho. CBS switched: yesterday it had Cho, the family name, first, Korean-style; now Cho is last, following western traditions. There was also a split decision (ABC 8 min v CBS 14, NBC 16) on how fast to scale back coverage.
All three networks traced Cho's history of problems, a history that was well known to campus police, teachers and fellow students even before we saw his farewell videotape. In 2005 campus authorities received complaints that he was stalking female students and had him briefly committed to a mental hospital.
His professor Lucinda Roy talked to all three networks. "This was one of the most disturbed students I have ever seen," Roy recalled to NBC's Lisa Myers. Roy told ABC's David Muir that she "grew uneasy being alone with him, working out a code with her assistant if she needed help." Cho seemed so depressed that "I imagined I would get a call saying that he had killed himself," the professor told CBS' Sharyn Alfonsi. "I thought he might hurt me." Alfonsi called Cho a "ticking timebomb" and Muir mused that "those red flags were glaring."
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