14:46 PM

Reporters rely on blogs for info from shooting scene

News.com is pointing to this blog post from a Virginia Tech student as an indication of how, especially with cellphones down, the media depended on bloggers and other web forums to connect with eyewitnesses to the unbelievable carnage. The blogger, a student named Paul, wrote:

The story goes that she was in class and they heard a banging, her teacher opened the door to find out what was going on, and after not seeing anything, closed the door. Not more than two seconds later, a gunman entered her room, to which the class responded by getting underneath the desks and basicly hiding as well as possible from this guy. He then shot at the class somewhere between 8 to 12 times and then left. Kate was hit in the hand by a stray bullet, after speaking with her on the phone while she was/is at the hospital,I found out that she still has a peice of a bullet lodged into her hand, and has fractions on her index and pinkey finger. She is about to go into surgery to get that cleaned up and will be there for the next three days. Again she was not specific on exactly what transpired there, but it must have been very stressful for her. She said that the gunman, who looked asian, left and She and another classmate barricated the door while others attended to the wounded and injured. The gunman came back and tried to get in, but because of the barracade couldnt and proceeded to shoot at the door at hip level, while kate was and the other classmates were at ground level.

The second comment on the entry was from CBC, the third from NPR, a little later the Boston Herald, MTV and ABC all posted requests for interviews.

Non-media posters expressed outrage at the speedy requests, which were along the lines of "That's terrible. Look can you call me?"

I cannot believe how quickly the media has already descended on you! Too bad you and the other bloggers are, as usual, doing their jobs for them.
Please keep posting, and don't let the media swarm get to you. Tell your friend Kate and everyone else down there that a lot of people are thinking about you. Stay strong.

News.com quotes Robert Niles of the Online Journalism Review:

"The Web basically cuts the middleman out of the picture, and allows the people who were there on the scene to get their story out to a global audience immediately," said Robert Niles, editor of the Online Journalism Review. "Of course, journalists can follow up on that, find these first-person witnesses or potential witnesses and interview them to draw more details out of them to further complete the story. So it allows the whole newsgathering process to move much more quickly."

But the fast-moving events and the information vacuum may have created some craziness. The LiveJournal blog of Wayne Chiang - with dozens of photos of him with LOTS of guns convinced many they had ID'd the shooter, according to ABC's Richard Esposito:

Right now pretty much the Internet thinks it is me, Chiang told ABC News. "I am just interested in trying to clear my name.

"It was five for five. I was Asian, I lived in (the dorm), I go to V Tech, I recently broke up with my girlfriend and I collect guns," Chiang, who initially contacted ABC affiliate KNXV.