Virginia Tech: A Story with Its Own Peculiar Rhythm

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For many reporters, there's a familiarity about much that's taken place in the aftermath of the shooting at Virginia Tech. Columbine, Jonesboro, Red Lake, it's a story with it's own peculiar rhythm.


NPR's Greg Allen has been covering the shooting at Virginia Tech this week. Here's a look into his Reporter's Notebook.

GREG ALLEN: For many reporters, there's a familiarity about much that's taken place in the aftermath of the shooting at Virginia Tech. Columbine, Jonesboro, Red Lake - it's a story with its own peculiar rhythm. Profiles of the victims, a probe into the shooter's background, an official review to make sure something like this never happens again.

And on Virginia Tech's drill field, just a few hundred feet from Norris Hall, where most of the violence occurred, there is a memorial. Thirty-two chunks of limestone - Hokie stones they're called on campus - are arranged in a semicircle.

Inside the ring are flowers, candles, stuffed animals, a Virginia Tech football. In the middle of the drill field, there are four striped awnings - maroon and white. It's a place where people come to record memories and tributes to the victims on white plywood boards: Jared(ph), I will miss your friendly smile. Leslie, you lived life the way we all should have. Ryan, thanks for keeping my son safe.

Hale Stinerod(ph) from Charlotte left a message of her own.

Ms. HALE STINEROD (Resident, Charlotte): I wrote a note yesterday just because so many people before I left Charlotte said please tell them that we are praying. Every store I went in, every place I went, people said, because I was wearing my Hokie gears. Today, I wanted to leave certain scriptures on the wall to encourage those that are grieving.

ALLEN: You see Hokie parents here hugging their student children. A harried university vice president comes by for a few quiet moments before returning to crisis recovery mode. It's a place where Stinerod says it's hard not to shed a few tears.

Ms. STINEROD: My son and I came over here and started reading the letters, the memorials and, you know, he's a big 23-year-old man and we both just started crying and just hugging one another. So I'm grateful that these walls are here.

ALLEN: It's a much-needed refuge for a community under stress. After a week of enduring hundreds of reporters and TV cameras, Virginia Tech is suffering from media fatigue. A few minutes here reminds even hardened reporters that it's not just about a new story. It's about 32 people - students, teachers, daughters, husbands - who were suddenly and cruelly taken away from the people who love them.

WERTHEIMER: NPR's Greg Allen in Blacksburg, Virginia.

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