Judged by the internet

Rumours that Chiang, 23, was the mass murderer swept across the world after links to his gun-obsessed blogs were posted on social networking website Facebook and similar sites. More than 180,000 people visited his sites, with many noting the similarities between him and the man described in accounts of the Virginia Tech tragedy.

Some went so far as to jump to a conclusion. “Early 20s, Asian man, vtech student. Fits the bill,” wrote one commenter on one of Chiang’s blogs. Another simply wrote: “Why why why why why?”

His blogs are decorated with a multitude of photos of Chiang posing with semi-automatic weapons and Russian rifles and training at a marine camp. His last post before the killings showed him proudly standing alongside his collection of 14 Russian Mosin Nagant M44 weapons. —Kenneth NguyenJudged by the internet (The Age)

I asked my journalism students today… if they heard gunfire on campus, would they pull out their cell phone camera and head towards it, hoping to get a scoop?

I told them they should get to safety.

When I learned that the young man who was identified as the shooter was an English major, the whole incident became suddenly more real. It shouldn’t have — the human tragedy would not be less heartrending if the student had chosen different coursework. So now, on top of all the other emotions that I’m feeling as I contemplate the event, I feel guilt.

My journalism students are doing next week’s podcasts on local reaction to the massacre.