Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Other Virginia Tech Massacre Documentary

As the fourth anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre approaches April 16th, two documentaries are marking the occasion. The first, Gun Fight, debuted tonight on HBO; the other, Documenting Disaster, is set to premiere amid much less fanfare this Friday and Saturday at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia.

The full title of the second documentary is Documenting Disaster: A Campus Newspaper Pieces Together a Torn Community. The reason it's showing at Christopher Newport is because it is the work of four journalism students there, led by Samantha Thrift, editor of college newspaper The Captain's Log. Along with Andrew Deitrick, Victoria Shirley and Cassie Vinch, she spent four months tracking down former Virginia Tech student journalists. In the end, Thrift and co. wound up with 60 hours of footage, edited down to a final running time of 45 minutes.

For the remainder of 2007 following the massacre, Tuesday through Friday of each week, Virginia Tech's Collegiate Times published at least one story related to the horrible events. The idea of journalism students at a campus once removed from Virginia Tech coming in to document what their brethren struggled through a few years beforehand is a fascinating model, providing arguably just the right measure of step-back room.

Documenting Disaster features interviews with a Virginia Tech faculty advisor and a university spokesman. But ultimately, it's all about how a group of student journalists were suddenly thrust into the biggest news story of 2007 and had to somehow contain their emotions as they worked alongside members of major mainstream news organizations.

[Documenting Disaster: A Campus Newspaper Pieces Together a Torn Community]


  1. **Correction, Cassie Vinch, not Finch**

  2. I don't know, I would say the fanfare had by the documentary shown at CNU was pretty impressive! Also, you did not comment at all on the video itself...

  3. Hi Megan:

    I wasn't able to see the whole doc when I wrote this item, otherwise would have reviewed it more. And glad to hear campus fanfare was there!