CONTAINING LINKS TO 51991 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM APRIL 17, 2007
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.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR APRIL 17, 2007: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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video thumbnailCBSVirginia Tech campus massacre leaves 33 deadMourning organized at university convocationKatie CouricVirginia
video thumbnailABCVirginia Tech campus massacre leaves 33 deadMourning organized at university convocationDavid MuirVirginia
video thumbnailCBSVirginia Tech campus massacre leaves 33 deadInvestigation into killer's motives, methodsBob OrrVirginia
video thumbnailNBCVirginia Tech campus massacre leaves 33 deadSecurity was slow to alert students to dangerLisa MyersWashington DC
video thumbnailABCVirginia Tech campus massacre leaves 33 deadStudents in next door classroom dodged deathCharles GibsonVirginia
video thumbnailNBCVirginia Tech campus massacre leaves 33 deadKiller ID'd as English major from suburban DCPete WilliamsWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSVirginia Tech campus massacre leaves 33 deadKiller purchased murder weapon in Roanoke VaArmen KeteyianNew York
video thumbnailABCVirginia Tech campus massacre leaves 33 deadBiographical sketches of slain students, facultyDan HarrisVirginia
video thumbnailNBCVirginia Tech campus massacre leaves 33 deadOnline support networks are sites for mourningTom CostelloVirginia
video thumbnailABC
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College campus security measures surveyedTrade off student safety for academic opennessDean ReynoldsChicago
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
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.


TICK TOCK A day later, the timeline of the killing was laid out. When the first two dormitory deaths were discovered at 7:15am, campus police insisted that they secured that building, CBS' Sharyn Alfonsi reported. However she checked with a student resident. She "told a different story," recounting that she left unobstructed an hour later. "The dorm was not secure. The gunman was on the loose," Alfonsi concluded.

CBS' Bob Orr consulted his unidentified sources. They told him that the student gunman returned to his own dormitory next door after his first two killings. There he left a "rambling but threatening note" in which "he seemed to blame others for his perceived problems." His roommate Karan Grewal described the gunman just two hours before the killing started: he had "no expression on his face. He did not seem angry or sad or anything."

Questions persist about the decision made by campus security to delay until 9:26am its e-mail notification to students about the two previous dormitory deaths. NBC's in-house security consultant Michael Sheehan told Lisa Myers that the two-hour delay was "inexplicable" and "a very grave mistake." He declared: "They should have ramped up the security significantly more than they did" with an "aggressive, robust law enforcement presence throughout the campus."

The eventual carnage occurred at 9:45am in the classrooms of the academic building named Norris Hall, ten minutes' walk from the first death scene. Students in a German class and an engineering class were wiped out. A second e-mail notification was sent out promptly at 9:50am. "By then it was too late," NBC's Myers pointed out.

ABC's anchor Charles Gibson sat down with students who were next door in Norris Hall in a ten-person mathematics class. They recounted how they dodged death by barricading themselves inside, staying silent for 40 minutes: "Sure enough, two seconds after we threw that table against the door he was at our handle trying to get in, pushing against the door. Then he started firing bullets against the door. We were lying on the ground," said one. "You could feel the bullets. You could feel the vibrations of each gun shot," said another. "The only silence you heard the entire time throughout the shooting was when he had to reload."

The wounded are recovering at a nearby hospital. ABC's Muir quoted student Garrett Evans: "One of the worst things a human being could smell is death. You are in a room, not really large. It has to hold about 30 people. And you have all that carnage laying on the ground."


WARNING SIGNS The killer was identified as a 23-year-old English major from Centerville Va in suburban Washington DC. A Korean-born immigrant, ABC rendered his name as Seung-Hui Cho; CBS and NBC used Cho Seung-Hui, surname first. NBC's Pete Williams' anonymous sources at the murder investigation called Cho an "emotionally-troubled loner" who felt "picked-on and bullied." His classroom writing included two short plays Mr Brownstone and Richard McBeef about "students who were angry at teachers and parents," Williams added. ABC's Pierre Thomas (subscription required) reported that Cho "expressed hatred for rich students." His creative writing teacher Lucinda Roy was worried enough about his behavior that she inquired about psychological counseling for him: "He seemed so disturbed anyway that we needed to do something about this."


LAW ABIDING Cho appears to have broken no laws prior to the day of the killings. He abided by Virginia's firearms control laws, passing a background check and providing photo ID proof of residence. He purchased the pair of handguns he used 30 days apart, as required. CBS' Armen Keteyian called the $571 credit-card purchase of a 9mm pistol and ammunition from a store in Roanoke "an altogether unremarkable sale." Gun shop owner John Markell gave a soundbite to all three networks. He told NBC's Dateline that "the law was followed." The only blemish on Cho's record was a couple of speeding tickets he picked up in the past three weeks, CBS' Orr observed.


LAUGH RIOT Gradually the names of those Cho killed are being released and their profiles are being recreated. Mike Taibbi for NBC, Dan Harris for ABC and Katie Couric for CBS had students describe their late friends. On ABC, Mary Read "was always smiling, always laughing. We would make fun of her just because she would smile so much." On NBC, Reema Samaha "was a really good bellydancer." On CBS, Ross Alameddine "was really funny. It is going to be awful to raise my hand and not have him make fun of me." On ABC, Emily Hilscher was "friends with everybody. She will laugh at you. She will laugh with you."

NBC's Taibbi paid tribute to engineering professor Liviu Librescu, 76: "The elderly Holocaust survivor blocked the classroom door against the gunfire with his body saving several lives before losing his own."


BEREAVED COMMUNITY Yesterday, ABC's Bill Blakemore (subscription required) examined how social networking sites were used for shared journalism about the shooting. Now, the Internet is used to share grief. CBS' Daniel Sieberg mused that facebook.com, "usually a massive digital yearbook" has morphed into "a memorial site." NBC's Tom Costello called Virginia Tech "one of the most wired and wireless communities" and for thousands of students "their community is facebook." He called the interplay of e-mails, text messages and chatrooms a "community center and town square" for this generation of students. A single page of condolences has already logged 150,000 visitors.


OFF CAMPUS Only ABC filed a story not strictly focused on the killings at Virginia Tech. However Dean Reynolds' (subscription required) feature was absolutely related. He examined the balance university campuses have to strike between academic openness and student safety. While there is a nationwide debate about installing closed circuit TV cameras and restricting campus access to non-members of universities, Reynolds found consensus about systems for alerting students as soon as trouble happens. Virginia Tech made inquiries about an instantaneous text messaging provider just months ago.


MENTIONED IN PASSING The network newscasts do not assign correspondents to all of the news of the day. If Tyndall Report readers come across videostreamed reports online of stories that were mentioned only in passing, post the link in comments for us to check out.

Today there was not a single example of a newsworthy event taking place elsewhere in the world.