Archive for the ‘Virginia Tech’ Category

Take A News Break Day

Friday, February 15th, 2008

As many of you readers know, I was teaching at Virginia Tech on April 16 last year. The devastation we all felt losing people dear to us was deeply exacerbated by an invasion of a press corps whose satellite vehicles alone filled a football stadium parking lot. To say that these folks were insensitive would be an understatement. I never had any respect for the kind of journalism, especially TV journalism, that chases ambulances. But even my cynicism did not prepare me for what I saw those days.

So, in light of the Northern Illinois University shootings, I will be taking a news break today. I encourage you to consider doing the same. The NIU shootings will, no doubt, be the top headline on most news networks and websites and every click or minute spent watching gives more encouragement to these (mostly) commercial enterprises to exploit others’ pain for profit. My thoughts will be with the NIU community for today and for the days to come. But I’m not going to kid myself that viewing news reports on CNN or MTV is going to help these folks heal. But I’ll stop, because I’ve written about “pornography of the real” before.

If you must read about the shootings, I encourage you to visit Northern Illinois University‘s website, or to read the Dekalb Daily-Chronicle. In my experience last year the news sources that were most valuable were the Virginia Tech website and our local newspaper, the Roanoke Times, whose coverage was sensitive, even-handed, and comprehensive. Their coverage only (re)confirmed for me that when it comes to telling stories, place — where you come from, where you live, the people you call neighbors — matters.

Tragedy at Virginia Tech: What You Can Do, How You Can Help

Saturday, April 21st, 2007

A number of you have emailed me privately to ask how, if at all, you can be of help regarding the tragic events of the past week. Thanks for asking.

Here are some ideas:

* If you are as concerned and offended as I am about decision of the various news outlets to share the killer’s self-taped images and/or manifesto, let them know your thoughts about it.

* If you have no connection whatsoever to the events of the past week I request that you pause, for at least 24 hours, reading any news stories on the event, especially from news outlets that have featured the killer’s vanity kit. Instead, use that time — even if it’s 5 minutes — to do something positive in the world.

* If you feel compelled to read the news, I encourage you to visit The Roanoke Times, whose in-depth and respectful coverage has been a source of pride for many of us in the area.

* If you are able to do so, I encourage you to donate to one of the many memorial funds set up to honor the victims.

* Finally, if you are a film professional, in the coming weeks I will be looking for internships and summer work for my 26 filmmaking students. It’s vital, to me, to help them find meaningful summer activity, which will move them forward in their career goals and get their minds off of the terrible recent events.

Please contact me directly if you can offer an internship or, even better, paid summer work: pharrill AT selfreliantfilm DOT com