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Virginia Tech Shooting Largest in History

A gunman opened fired on a college dormatory and classroom two hours apart, killing himself and an estimated 30 other people in what has become the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history, according to an Associated Press article published online at Forbes today. Students criticized the response of the staff on campus as there were two hours in between the two seperate incidents, and the students were not informed. In addition to the potentially over 31 people killed, at least 26 others were being treated for wounds at local hospitals. After the shootings, the campus was closed and classes for the rest of the day and the next day were cancelled.

It's a wire news service article, and it has a lot of the conventions of those types of pieces. The lead is very typical, outlining straight the events in the tragedy in the way a hard news story would. It goes in to give student reactions, and a quote attributed directly to the president of the university. After this, it then jumps back into the events of the story and offers some details that seem to describe the scene. Student reaction then gets a direct attribution, before more specifics are given and a brief history of these types of massacres is given. A bit more information about the extent of the damage, and a quote from a university spokesperson are given, and this latter half of the article generally seems to be filled with esoteric details about the shooting that aren't crucial but add to the piece, though not much is yet known about the nature of the crime (ie potential motives, the perpatrator). A spokesperson for president Bush is also quoted.

A Reuters article published on the website swissinfo.org covers the issue in a similar way. First of all, however, I feel like the lead flows a bit better. There's less to it and it seems like it conveys the same level of information, while still giving a quick feel for the nature of the scene. The story is much, much more graphic and begins with a detailed chronology and retelling of the incident, giving a student's/victim's perspective and describing the nature of the crime and how the investigation was proceeding. A lot more attribution is used, from victims, police officials, physicians, and interest groups. Voices on the matter are given a chance to speak, and the article finishes with some concrete and basic details about the campus itself.

I feel like the Associated Press article is a bit more tasteful and less sensationalist. In a way I feel like the Reuters article is almost exploiting the tradgedy somehow. It feels like their reporting and descriptions are almost treating the situation like a form of entertainment, or a story to be enjoyed or something. I dunno, it just disturbs me. The whole incident does. Neither article is pleasant to read so don't get the idea that I enjoyed reading either one, but the Reuters piece goes beyond what I feel is acceptable in terms of reporting on something like this. The level of detail is just too much.