A Very Sad Day

Today was supposed to be a good day. Last night, like a kid dreaming of proverbial sugarplum fairies, I literally dreamt of the Red Camera, which was set to be unveiled today at the National Association of Broadcasters convention.

Instead, today has been — well, there aren’t words.

As many of you know, I teach at Virginia Tech. If, somehow, you have not heard, there were a series of shootings on campus today that left over 30 people dead. Apparently this is the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, though I find it sad that there’s a need to keep such statistics.

For those of you that emailed me, some of whom I’ve never even met face to face, thank you so much for your concern. I am alright. Shaken, for sure — we were under “lock down” for several nerve-wracking hours — but deeply thankful that my students and I made it through the day unscathed. More than anything else, though, my heart is just broken to pieces over the victims and their families. I expect that things will only grow sadder as more news comes out, particularly when the names of the deceased start to be released to the public. I do not look forward to waking up tomorrow and reading the news.

I tell my students that storytelling is citizenship — a “service profession”, really. Tomorrow I’ll try to think of something positive and useful for my students to do with our video cameras.

12 Responses to “A Very Sad Day”

  1. tom Says:

    paul, i was devastated to hear, but are glad you’re both well. We’re all thinking of you.

  2. Sujewa Ekanayake Says:

    Very sorry to hear about the tragedy Paul. Difficult to find words that will do any sufficient justice towards the enormous loss Virginia Tech experienced today. My thoughts are with everyone who was affected by today’s horrible events. Best of luck to you and everyone else in the Virginia Tech community in recovering from today’s events. Let me know if I can do anything to help.

    – Sujewa

  3. Dan Kremer Says:

    Hi Paul,

    I heard the good news about you being alright from Chris Cagle. I saw the news break in the Annenberg Atrium and the first thing I thought when I saw that 32 people had been killed was “I wonder if Harrill’s alright.”

  4. Jen Says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Paul. I thought of you today while hearing this devastating news. Our hearts are with all of you in Blacksburg.

  5. Brian Newman Says:

    Paul, Thanks for the post – was worried about you yesterday, and couldn’t get an email through. Thoughts are with you…

  6. Ajit Says:

    I’d forgotten you teach at V.Tech. So sorry about what happened.

  7. Erik Harrison Says:

    Wasn’t really sure what to say or how to say it. I have some acquaintances who are around that area who all seem to be fine, thank god.

    Perhaps this is a callous question to ask, but whence art in the face of tragedy? I know you have some projects in the works. Where does this leave you? And, considering storytelling as a service position, where does this take you?

  8. Bryan Poyser Says:


    I had no idea you taught at Virginia Tech. Glad to hear you’re alright but I know there are many people in your community who are not. My heart goes out to them.

  9. christopher Says:

    my condolences paul. i can’t imagine what it must be like for everyone involved, but especially those who lost friends, family or lovers in this tragedy. best wishes as you and your students process this.

  10. Diana Says:

    I’m very glad to hear that you are alright. A surprising number of people I work with know someone at Virginia Tech, so we were all deeply concerned when we heard about the shootings. Best wishes to you and your students.

  11. Eric Wetherington Says:

    glad you’re ok Paul.

  12. Chuck Says:

    Glad you’re okay, Paul. I was thinking about you and several other friends and acquaintances who teach/live in Blacksburg. My thoughts are with you and everyone in the Va. Tech community.