Monday, April 16, 2007

A horrible tragedy

It was with horror that I learned of the massacre at Virginia Tech that has claimed more than 30 lives. It's the most unreal, sad tragedy ever at a college or university campus in the United States.

Unlike the University of Texas tragedy in 1966 or the Kent State tragedy in 1970, this one occurred in an age during which news delivery is instantaneous. My first word of the Virginia Tech massacre came this morning when I logged onto my email service. A headline broke the news to me.

Just a little while ago, I switched on the TV to learn more about the Virginia Tech violence. CNN and Fox, among other networks, are feeding us constant coverage of the massacre. Back in the days of the UT and Kent State shootings, news filtered to the masses in a considerably slower manner; we typically had to wait till the evening news or the morning papers to get the full story. Now, on networks such as CNN and Fox, we're seeing multiple images of and hearing multiple reports about the Virginia Tech rampage -- from professional and amateur reporters.

Such rapid distribution of news is double-edged. We certainly receive information with swift speed. But we also receive information that can be incomplete or downright inaccurate. This afternoon, for instance, it was unclear who the shooter was, how many people had been killed and how many people had been injured.

To be sure, we can't expect all the concrete details to spill forth right away. Nonetheless, we also need to read, watch and listen to news about the Virginia Tech massacre and other such incidents with skeptical eyes and ears.

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