How the Collegiate Times covered the 5th year anniversary of the VT shootings

Five years ago today, one of the deadliest school shootings of all time happened at Virginia Tech University, where deeply troubled student Seung-Hui Cho massacred 32 classmates and professors before killing himself. The shootings stunned the nation, and prompted debates over collegiate safety and firearm laws. Five years later, a few newspapers in Virginia published stories related to the anniversary, but none of them compare to the scope of the university’s own paper.

The Collegiate Times (the university’s student-run newspaper) published this stark, eye-grabbing covertoday. I love it. For an issue like this, going out to a community that needs no reminder of what happened that April 16, this simple Roman numeral is more effective of a reminder than any picture of students mourning or Cho posing. That is a cover that demands to be read and to be picked up. The beginning text adds to the effect, saying,

“Time stood still each time Kristina Anderson heard about another traumatizing school shooting.

Anderson, who was injured in her French class in Norris Hall on the morning of April 16, 2007, feels a little bit of that pain return each time another shooting terrorizes another school.

“You were immediately taken back to your own experience even though they might be in Illinois or Finland or Ohio,” Anderson said. “Still, you can immediately relate to what happened, and you’re kind of in disbelief. At first, I started to feel a little bit of fear again. I felt, again, unsafe and scared and sadness and grief. It’s almost like you relive the Virginia Tech tragedy every time it happens.”

Beautiful. I have nothing else to add, really. Just a great front page tackling a heavy subject, and succeeding. You can check out other pages in the issue here, here and here, or check out all of the pages on Charles Apple’s blog. Here’s what Editor-in-Chief Zach Crizer had to say about the edition:

1. We used the Roman numeral for a couple reasons. It was originally considered because this is something we have done in the past. For our second anniversary, the Roman numeral II went the length of the page and a story ran between it. Now, that obviously still doesn’t explain why we use Roman numerals. The main reason is we feel there is no artistic element that fully captures the emotions or events of the day. No photo of one person or one thing can encapsulate what everyone feels, so we “mark” the passage of time with a literal mark. We feel these bold designs give people the opportunity to reflect on the time that has passed and still serve as a clear reminder that the greatest tragedy to strike our university is at another anniversary. The V was particularly appealing because we are “VT” and we used the extended lede of my story as a subtle reflection of the V to symbolize the reflecting being done on campus today.

2. Three people wrote stories for the edition (myself, news editor Nick Cafferky and features editor Chelsea Gunter). Design editor Victoria Zigadlo designed most of the issue, with some very significant contributions from design editor Danielle Buynak. The photos were mostly file art from previous events and anniversaries, but the most significant photos were from Mark Umansky and Paul Kurlak (who are both still current employees) and former photo editor Daniel Lin.

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