The Northern Illinois tragedy: thoughts and links


We’ve seen far too many photographs like this over the past year. This image comes from the student vigil held Thursday night (Feb. 14, 2008) on the campus of Northern Illinois University, where a former NIU grad student opened fire in a lecture hall, killing six students (the latest count) and wounding 15 others before taking his own life. (Photo by Charles Rex Arbogast for the Associated Press and found here.)

Several higher ed bloggers have posted their thoughts on the tragedy. You can find many of them on the BlogHighEd aggregator and see additional posts as they are certain to occur throughout the day. There isn’t much I can add, other than to agree that this was a senseless tragedy. About the best I can do — the best any of us can do — is to offer our prayers and support to the families of the victims.

Here are a few higher ed blog posts worth noting:

  • Like me, Brad J. Ward (one of the guys behind BlogHighEd) did a quick post Thursday night as soon as he found out about the tragedy. “Sitting here in class and saw “17 shot on Campus” on laptop screen in row in front of me. Pulled up Twitter and sure enough Andrew Careaga was already on the story with a CNN link.This one hits a little too close to home.”
  • Karine Joly does a nice job reviewing NIU’s crisis response as it played out on the campus’s website yesterday and today. “There are some blog posts I would rather not write,” Karine explains. “This is one of them, but as I did at the time of the Virginia Tech Tragedy, I think it’s important for the higher ed web and communication community to keep a record of the way NIU is handling this tragic event.” I agree, on both counts. It appears that the university’s response was solid, but that’s little consolation to the families of the victims. Thank you, Karine, for having the composure to give us a quick but solid analysis of NIU’s online communications.
  • In A Somber Friday, Deanna Woolf posts some poignant thoughts in response to the tragedy that everyone should read. Go ahead. It’ll take less than two minutes. And while you’re there, why not leave a note to let Deanna and her readers know that you’re keeping the NIU community in your thoughts and prayers?

Some media links worth noting:

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Author: andrewcareaga

Higher ed PR and marketing guy. Communications director for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Slow runner, mediocre guitarist, lover of music and puns, and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. I blog and Tweet about #highered, #music, #gocards and #random stuff.

7 thoughts on “The Northern Illinois tragedy: thoughts and links”

  1. I don’t know about you, but I can’t watch the news anymore.

    After Union University (with fortunately no life claimed,Louisiana Tech last week and Virginia Tech 10 months ago, I can’t help to think that crisis communication is slowing becoming a major chapter in higher ed communication. And, boy, do I hate that.

    This kind of events is one of the reasons why I turned my back to my previous career as a journalist.

  2. There seems to be a difference between “covering major news event in my area of expertise” and “using a tragedy as a means to establish how hip and up-to-date I am, please bookmark my blog and heighten my reader count!” I’m not always sure on which side of that line many blogs fall and the very idea of exploiting an event like this is quite sickening. I’m not pointing any fingers or naming any names as I’m not thinking of anyone in particular but it’s something that should be acknowledged and discussed in the open.

  3. Kevin – Thank you for commenting on this issue. I agree it’s something that should be acknowledged and discussed. When the news about the shootings broke on Thursday, I was putting the finishing touches on a snarky post that I quickly realized would have been in very poor taste given the situation. Of course, tragedy occurs day in and day out — but it seems the closer to home an event is, either geographically or in our line of work, the more relevant it suddenly becomes, and the more circumspect we may become. (Or, perhaps, the more opportunistic.)

  4. Thank you for your coverage of this event. I want to make you aware that I used your words and picture on my poetry website – I did this to bring this tragedy to people’s attention “lest we ever forget” these lost lives.

    Although this may be construed as capitalizing on tragedy, I do believe that our voices must be raised to stop these tragedies. Poetry has been a powerful force to influence society.

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