Old thinking at Virginia Tech

By Steve Outing

Administrators at Virginia Tech are getting questioned (rightfully) about the way they handled yesterday’s shootings. After the first shootings of two people early in the day, university law enforcement did not alert the campus community while police tried to piece together the situation. When the second and larger round of shootings occurred, most people on campus did not know about the earlier shootings — unless they heard about it via e-mails, phone calls or text messages from friends.

As is predictable in a big story like this, students and faculty on campus throughout yesterday’s tragedy used cell phones and the Internet to trade information and rumors. (Media Daily News has a good roundup story of this phenomenon.)

So, once again, the people who are part of the story use modern technology to get vital information from each other, while official institutions (campus police, university administration) fall back on the old way of doing things: Wait till all the information is gathered and analyzed before issuing a public statement.

Frankly, the world has changed. Just as news media must adapt to this demand for instant dissemination of what we know about a story, so too must other institutions. In hindsight, university officials should have shared what they knew almost immediately, so at least everyone on campus could have been hyper alert to potential danger.

The gatekeeping function in today’s wired (and wireless) world doesn’t make as much sense as it once did, when any eyewitness with a cell phone can be a reporter, and those involved have the means to share what they know immediately.

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!

3 Responses to "Old thinking at Virginia Tech"

  1. Jamie Carpenter
    Jamie Carpenter 10 years ago .Reply

    The problem Steve is people who work in the the Universities or Govenrment red tagged professions have been beaten down for so many years everytime they try to share information that they become afraid of the consequences. People loose their balls.. and by balls I mean grab the situation by the balls and respond for heavens sakes! I work in a government office and experience the same repression every time I try to educate the public about important information. It’s really irritating and rather depressing. It’s like, “I worked here for 10 ten years, I am responding to a critical situation and some public relations spokes person is going to CUT you down no matter what you do! There are always legal consequences and circumstances to consider! Well, the legal system is a JOKE now days. Did you no that the 9th circut court in California just upheld a civil case in favor of the public school system, where some parents tried to sue the school system for asking students ages 7 to 10 years old inappropriate questions. And by inapropriate, I mean they asked the kids how often they washed them selves because they felt dirty inside, how often the kids thought about sex, how often the kids wanted to touch them selves. Can you believe that… and the court system ruled in favor of the school system claiming that parents don’t have a right to decide what content is best for their children in school, it shoudl be left up to the school, the government, the pig headed liberal, comunistic take “In God We Trust” out of the dollar bill and “Christ” out of Chritmas. Where is this country heading? To Europe?

  2. Jamie Carpenter
    Jamie Carpenter 10 years ago .Reply

    The problem Steve is people who work in the the Universities or Govenrment red tagged professions have been beaten down for so many years everytime they try to share information that they become afraid of the consequences. People loose their balls.. and by balls I mean grab the situation by the balls and respond for heavens sakes! I work in a government office and experience the same repression every time I try to educate the public about important information. It's really irritating and rather depressing. It's like, "I worked here for 10 ten years, I am responding to a critical situation and some public relations spokes person is going to CUT you down no matter what you do! There are always legal consequences and circumstances to consider! Well, the legal system is a JOKE now days. Did you no that the 9th circut court in California just upheld a civil case in favor of the public school system, where some parents tried to sue the school system for asking students ages 7 to 10 years old inappropriate questions. And by inapropriate, I mean they asked the kids how often they washed them selves because they felt dirty inside, how often the kids thought about sex, how often the kids wanted to touch them selves. Can you believe that… and the court system ruled in favor of the school system claiming that parents don't have a right to decide what content is best for their children in school, it shoudl be left up to the school, the government, the pig headed liberal, comunistic take "In God We Trust" out of the dollar bill and "Christ" out of Chritmas. Where is this country heading? To Europe?

  3. […] Steve Outing: Old thinking at Virginia Tech […]

Leave your comment