Friday, February 15, 2008

NIU Shooting: Journalists are human too

After the press conference, we headed to the Northern Star Headquarters. We received many different interviews. Our best one was with the editor-in-chief John. He was so calm about the whole situation. We stayed here for a majority of the time. Other news entities where coming in and out, trying to cover the same angle.
We left around 12:40 heading to a tip that there was a memorial set up around the shooting location. As we walked up the reality of it all began to sink in. Five white crosses with red writing symbolized the five students who were killed in Yesterday’s shootings. It was a very somber sight as we saw one student, Raquel who kept crying as she answered questions from the media sitting in the snow with her head in her hands.
Raquel had two friends who were shot, and one of those friends was dating one of the deceased. I felt bad for her, because no one around her could even begin to understand how she was feeling at that moment, but some tried. We listened to her story intently as she told us step by step what she hear. “Gunshots” she said, “that’s all I can remember”. She has that sound replaying in her head. One of the most memorable shots I have when talking with her is when she began to sob and a camera guy with a camera over his shoulder gave her a hug. It was a time that being with the press and ethics came into play. It was hard for many journalists there not to feel involved.
The next group of people that came to the cross memorial was a group of about 10 people, who brought flowers up to the crosses and then gathered in a circle and started praying. Getting through this tragedy together was a big prayer request. We then saw the governor of Illinois move by and headed to the crime scene…Cole Hall. Seeing where it actually took place created a very unusual feeling in the pit of my stomach.


A Fearless Leader

The Northern Star is the voice of Northern Illinois University. Just walking into their newsroom today and its clear, this group of college students mean business. Today is especially hard for them, covering the greatest tragedy their campus has ever seen.

Today the newspaper staff searches for answers. Unlike the other media that floods their campus, the staff of the Northern Star are reporting on their home front. Each and every news article they write has a personal connection. They are doing more than reporting on people, they are reporting on their friends, colleagues, and more importantly the place they call home.

Leading this group is Northern Star Editor in Chief, John Puterbaugh. John is a senior at NIU this year and like many of his cohorts, will never forget this day. For John these past few hours have been an adrenaline rush. I asked him what it has been like covering a story so close to home and he says you don't even have time to think. Beyond the lens of John's camera and beneath the bleed of his pen John is reporting a story that will make its mark in history.

Just talking with John and its apparent that he is strong in character. Even with every major media outlet biting at his heals he still found time to sit and talk with us. Holding back emotion and fear John shared both excitement and gratitude for his staff. He frequently comments on the near thirty staff members that came to work on today's paper.

Our deepest respect goes out to John and his staff. Together they work to share a voice, and a message that they hope will bring truth and closure to the NIU community.

Student Run Media; Just Like Us

After the press conference in Altgeld Hall we came to the Northern Star for see how NIU's student run newspaper was controlling things during this tragic event. To our surprise it was actually pretty calm. As we were talking with staff here we made connections with the editor and chief, John Puterbaugh. As we watched John talk to numerous reporters he kept telling them how proud he was with his staff. He explained that after everyone found out about the shootings he had about 30 staff memebers come to the newspaper office and help. He explained that everyone pitched in to put their next issue out today.

This only makes me wonder what our media staff would do with this situation. Would we be as calm as the Northern Star?

After all of this Travis, Natalie, and I know the improtance of our Wartburg media family and connection.

As we run on only hours of sleep, I can't help but wonder how much sleep the students here at Northern Illinois University must have got. As we approached the town, butterflies fluttered in my stomach as I got a wave of goose bumps. It is a surreal experience.

We are still waiting to hear from the authorities, as the conference has been delayed. We made contact with our student media members from the Northern Star (NIU newspaper), that we contacted last night. We are planning on following them throughout the day, getting a unique angle on how the tragedy impacted them.

We will update after the press conference.


Awaiting Press Conference

As a college student studying communication arts I can say this is one of the biggest events I have ever covered. Last night around midnight, myself, Natalie Tendall, and Nikki Newbrough took off to DeKalb, Il to cover the shootings at Northern Illinois University.

At about 9am us, along with national media will have the chance to question officials about this horrific event. This is the first time we have been in the mix with national media. All around us cameras, national news anchors, newspaper reporters and photographers crowd Altgeld Hall.

Stay tuned throughout the day for more postings. We will be uploading pictures and video as time permits.

Stay tuned!

Travis Bockenstedt