by Kristine Coblitz
When I was in college studying journalism, one of my professors proudly announced she was a news junkie. She would boast about the numerous televisions she had in her home, all of which were tuned to news channels 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I had visions of her home being like CNN headquarters.
I guess her influence rubbed off on me because I have followed in her mental footsteps, but of course to a lesser degree. This can be both a blessing and a curse. There are times when I have to step away and escape into a blissful state of denial where bad things don't happen. My overactive mind can only take so much, after all.
This week, for example, I'm not enthusiastic about being a news junkie. As many other people, I'm scratching my head at the devastation and horrific shooting that rocked Virginia Tech earlier this week. My husband and I spent most of Monday evening watching Fox News with sadness and in awe, discussing images and details of what they are calling the worst school massacre in our nation's history. (Yes, my news junkie tendencies have rubbed off on my husband, too.)
Ever since then, I've been trying to catch clips on TV about the latest developments, and when on the computer, I keep watch on the news headlines. I've also been paying close attention to how the media is covering this story and the tactics of the various reporters.
This is scary stuff, folks. When I think back to my college days in downtown Pittsburgh, the worst thing I had to worry about was if a delay at the bus stop would make me late for class. It was a small college and I felt relatively safe there, even in the heart of the city. Heck, I spent most of my life during those four years on that campus.
In light of this situation, however, when I look back, there were some definite security issues that should have raised some red flags. Maybe I was too young to notice. Maybe I didn't care because I was at an age when I thought I was invincible. Maybe it's because the world was a much different place then.
Now that I'm a crime writer (yet still a journalist at heart), my interest and obsession with the news has two different motivations. In one way, I'm always looking for material to pipe into my fiction. In another way, I have an almost obsessive need to know what's going on in the world. I want to know all the details. Who, what, when, where, why...you get the idea. Although I must admit the “why” part is what intrigues me the most and is usually the most difficult question to answer.
The frustrating part is that, unlike fiction, events like this shooting don’t usually have a happy ending or even a satisfying one like you get in a novel. (Long live the book industry!) In real life, we are often left with even more troubling questions long after the case is solved.
As more details come in about this monumental tragedy in our history, you can bet I'll be paying attention. Will you?