Talk of the town? More like talk of the nation: When Local News Goes National

As we all know, the phrase “gunman on campus,” is nothing to take lightly.  Since the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech, colleges across the country have made it a priority to ensure the safety of their campus.

UNC Wilmington students were alerted late last night of a gunman on campus, fleeing from the nearby Hardees. The University continued to update students through email, phone calls and text messages in order to ensure all students were aware of the situation and safe.
It seems as though UNCW took all the proper precautions; what they didn’t take into consideration was how the students were going to react to it. Within a matter of no time, students with Facebook and Twitter accounts were posting: “everyone on campus be safe!” or writing terms of endearment on loved one’s walls. According to Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody, the ability of people to share, cooperate, and act together is being improved dramatically by our social tools.With access to these social networking sites, students were able to publicly announce that there was a gunman on campus, which instigated a major concern.  News of the gunman on UNCW’s campus even reached popular media outlets, such as the New York Times and CBS.

Using these social networking sites has united people all over the country.  Looking again at Shirky’s book, he exclaims, “a story can go from local to global in a heartbeat.” Without today’s social media sites, many news outlets would not have heard about the gunman. From an IMC perspective, we must look at how powerful these sites are and use them with much caution.

-Stephanie Bakolia, Claire Outlaw, David Glaubach

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6 thoughts on “Talk of the town? More like talk of the nation: When Local News Goes National

  1. UNC-Wilmington did a great job at getting the word out about the gunman on campus through phone calls and text messages. But the question remains about the siren never going off. People are wondering did it just not work and if so are they in the process of fixing it. Obviously some people may have not had their phones with them and would not of known until later about the events. Also UNC-W didn’t even follow up after the incident. All they did was send a text message saying that the gunman had not been found and it was safe now. Being in a PR class this semester I have learned that this is definitely not the way to handle the situation. People assumed the gunman was roaming around, but yet class was still in session. Overall, the PR department needs to better communicate with the students and staff after the incident not just during.

  2. I feel like UNCW handled this situation in the best possible way. Some people may feel that they overreacted about this gunmen, because he was not on a shooting spree but just happen to be on campus after robbing someone. It was important and their job to overreact and make sure that the entire school to this seriously and was aware of it. I feel like I was properly and quickly informed about this situation right when it happened. Social media was what really helped me stay informed about the issue and feel safe. I think the situation was not as big a deal as it seemed, but was still handled correctly.

  3. In terms of the initial reaction, UNCW did a good job with informing students as soon as possible. Even with ‘The Seahawk’ keeping me updated during the night on Twitter and Facebook was well appreciated, but at times some of their information was questionable. The one thing I was hoping to see on Twitter was the Chancellor saying something about the incident. It was until late afternoon the next day that he even mentioned the incident. Everyone needs to be aware at how strong social media is to this generation of college students and how we will almost believe anything we read on these sites. Therefore, UNCW should implement these sites and use them to their advantage with updating students. Overall, they did a good job but there are always ways they can better themselves. Especially in the sense of letting other media outlets know what is going on rather than just students and backing up why they make the decisions they do. Then they may not have been presented in an article with the headline “UNC Wilmington Holds Classes With Gunmen at Large” and this to the public could be construed in many different ways.

  4. I remember when my roommate and I got the text saying that there was a gunman on campus. Not even two minutes later we looked on our Facebooks and there were numerous posts about the news. I also saw a lot of the “be safe” statuses as well. I think that social networking and media has improved safety overall because it is a way for people to share or view current events or tragedies as they happen. This could even potentially save someone’s life by alerting them to take the necessary safety precautions. The next day in our IMC class, we talked about how popular the story was and that it had even reached major news providers such as The New York times and Fox News. They had articles with somewhat criticizing titles about how classes continued the next day while there was a gunman at large. However, I think that UNCW did a great job of notifying everyone and I do not believe they would allow students to go to class if they thought we were in danger.

  5. I feel that UNCW did what they could also. I dont fault them for anything. I rather them make it such a big deal and it not be that serious than the other way around. They just didnt want to mess up two times in such a small time. So i applaud them completely. Thank you UNCW Police for everything that you guys do !

  6. UNC-Wilmington has everything in place when emergency situations arise. They have perfected the emergency system and seem to be making progress in alerting people through many different routes and avenues. Maybe they should consider a emergency system through social media or should they keep relying on students to get the message out? I found out through Facebook about the last “gunman on campus” incident so maybe UNCW police should consider hiring someone to focus in social media alerts.

    The other important piece of the puzzle is that students at UNCW are getting used tot his false alarm messages and when something really happens they might not react as quickly or even think that is a real threat. There are many that I would think about and consider if I was in charge of the UNCW police. Double checking or attempting to investigate before sending our false alarms would be the first thing I would change…. What would you do?

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