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Virginia Tech shootings: Student paper covers it from the inside

December 8, 2011 |  2:50 pm

As the story of the Virginia Tech shootings continue to unfold, the reporters of the Collegiate Times have been front and center.

The newspaper's website crashed throughout the day due to intense interest, but through its Twitter feed @CollegiateTimes, the newspaper's Facebook page and reporters' own Twitter feeds, Collegiate Times staffers have kept its rapidly expanding audience up to date on all the twists and turns of the breaking news story — sometimes tweeting as often as once a minute.

And the Twittersphere is listening. The Collegiate Times twitter feed grew from having fewer than 2,000 followers to more than 20,500 (and counting) in just a few hours.

PHOTOS: Virginia Tech shooting

The Collegiate Times is believed to have been the first to break the news that someone had been killed on the campus, and major news sources like USA Today pointed their own Twitter followers to the Collegiate Times Twitter feed.

The reporting on @CollegiateTimes offers a feel of what it's like to be there at the school in the midst of a shooting. Readers can turn to the Twitter feeds of Kelsey Starr, @Kjostarr, a news writer for the Collegiate Times who described being locked in a room next to the performing arts center with three other students and a TV stand for a barricade. "Honestly, never been this scared," she wrote.

Nick Cafferky, @NickCaffCT, who works as the editor of the football section of Collegiate Times, tweeted eyewitness accounts of watching police take a stretcher away without anyone on it, and watching a police officer running with massive gun.

"I really want to go across the street and report on this…frustrating watching from window and believing rumors on #Twitter," he added.

Cafferky also promised to live Tweet a Virginia Tech media briefing.

There were a few missteps in the flurry of @CollegiateTimes' Tweets. At one point, according to the Twitter feed, they posted incorrect information on a lockdown, and mistakenly tweeted a photo from the April 2007 massacre as it if were an image taken Thursday. @CollegiateTimes immediately announced the mistakes, apologized and got back to the business of providing timely updates.

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--Deborah Netburn and Rene Lynch

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