Friday, April 20, 2007
CNNer/Tech grad struggles with emotion
More on CNN TV: Experts answer your calls and e-mails on this tragedy tonight on "Anderson Cooper 360," 10 p.m. ET.

I'm a journalist, and a 1996 Virginia Tech graduate. I'm also a native of the Blacksburg area. It's been a tough week for me -- the pang of emotion between being a journalist and a Tech grad. It's almost too hard to put into words.

I work for CNN's assignment desk in Atlanta. My daily assignment for the past year has included working with our affiliate TV stations in Virginia, including Roanoke, which covers Blacksburg.

I never would have dreamed that my work, and my small-town heritage, would come so full circle during the course of a week.

Those affiliate stations gave us our first gripping pictures from campus. Imagine helping bring in pictures to the world of such a tragedy -- video from the same campus I used to walk across.

Today, I'm working to cover the story in every way our network dictates, while I also think about my hometown and the people that I so identify with. Everyone is still grieving four days later.

Journalists are to be objective even in the face of stories that hit particularly close to home. I know colleagues have faced similar situations: New Orleans natives working Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. New York City natives during and after 9/11.

It is a challenge not allowing my emotion over the tragedy to affect my responsibilities here at CNN.

As I sit in our newsroom today and see so many colleagues from all over the world wearing Burnt Orange and Chicago Maroon (or colors kind of similar), I'm made aware that my alma mater's previously unknown fight song, unique mascot name, and large Corps of Cadets contingent aren't so misunderstood or unknown anymore.

We all learn things through life experience that impacts every facet of life. Let's go Hokies!

-- By Hank Bishop, CNN
Posted By CNN: 1:21 PM ET
  11 Comments
Hank
I, like most Americans, empathize with your feelings and comments on this blog posting. I cannot possibly imagine what it would be like to cover such a horrible tragedy at my own alma mater as I was once a Journalism graduate myself. Please know that I hope your school and the town of Blacksburg will not be remembered specifically for what this monstrous man did to them, but more so for how the community residents of Blacksburg and Virginia Tech banded together to help each other through it. My heart and thoughts are with you and all who have been so deeply affected by this. I wish everyone in that area continued success in their mourning process and the ability to eventually move on when the time is right. Virginia Tech now has a special place in my heart and I'm sure others across the country feel the same way. Go Hokies!
Posted By Anonymous Jean Verthein in Dallas : 2:10 PM ET
Hank:
I was just checking my email at my alma mater-LSU. There on the homepage was a beautiful message to Virginia Tech-the last line reads: from the Tigers to the Hokies:may you find peace. From this LSU Tiger to all you Hokies in Virginia: my heart breaks for you, I cry with you and I pray that you find whatever joy you can to get through this. LSU loves you guys!!
Posted By Anonymous Debbie, Denham Springs, LA : 2:32 PM ET
I live in Hawaii and have a nephew at VT. He is a grad student in engineering, and fortunately did NOT have a class Monday morning - or he would have been at Norris in the middle of all of that horror. I'm wearing some orange today and I note that a number of my co-workers are also wearing some orange or maroon.
Posted By Anonymous Fran - Mililani, HI. : 3:03 PM ET
It's the "experiences" that teach us life is precious. We all tend to take life for "granted". We wake up, shower, dress, go out into the world and take it on in our own unique way each day. We walk past the same people for years barely taking the time to acknowledge that they exist---then a tragedy such as this happens and jerks us into reality. The reality that "life IS short". Opportunities abound for us to be better, do better, reach out to those in need and share a bit of our time and energy in a positive way. The events of this week will forever make us wonder is there something that someone could have done to have influenced Cho in a positive way. How sad to think a friend, professor, acquaintance or family member could have made a difference for this young man. Let us all continue to lift the Virginia Tech students,staff and family members in prayer as they face the days and years ahead. There will be days of grief and a thousand questions. Difficult times will surely come as reality sets in. A sense of loss will overtake sudden shock and through all the mix of emotions ---life will go on.
Posted By Anonymous Zann Martin, Tennessee : 5:43 PM ET
Dear Hank,

We here in Ohio empathize with your feelings. Every May 4 we are reminded of the 1970 shootings at Kent State University. In situations like this, as well as the tragedies in New Orleans and NYC, where jounalists have a personal connection to the cities involved, we the viewers would be wrong to deny you your emotions. In my opinion, without emotion journalists may as well be automated. They sometimes need to express their humanity in order to touch the humanity inside every viewer.
Posted By Anonymous Jo Ann Matese, North Royalton, Ohio : 6:06 PM ET
I, like you am a Tech alumnus, class of 1993. I'm lucky enough to work with fellow alumnis at the office. I've been able to keep my emotions in check, until I read your post. It just struck me that Va Tech is now one of the most well known universities in the world. Not the sort of publicity that I'd thought we'd want, but nonetheless, its upon us. I am incredibly proud to say that I'm a Tech graduate. Every life experiences has a lesson, I hope we can all come out of this with a little more compassion for others, with a little more understanding of others, with a little more empathy for others, with a little more kindness towards others, but most importantly, I hope everyone can find something to be grateful for.
Posted By Anonymous Mina, Ashburn VA : 6:35 PM ET
Hello Hank,
People across this great nation are showing their colors and support for Virginia Tech. In my own town, we have a state university, Stephen F. Austin State University. Yesterday, students, faculty and staff formed a human Virginia Tech logo which appeared on the from page of our local newspaper. They are sending a framed version along with letters of condolences and donations to Virginia Tech. check it our at Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel.com-
We are with you VT!
God bless~
Posted By Anonymous Betty Ann, Nacogdoches, TX : 6:55 PM ET
From a Wahoo to all Hokies - Beta Bridge was painted in Orange and Maroon this week reading "Hoos for Hokies".

I think there are a quite a few "WAHOOKIES" in the world today.
Posted By Anonymous Virginia E.; Richmond, VA : 7:20 PM ET
The outreach to VT has been amazing, and their strength and unity has been inspiring. Cho's family is also a victim. How do you reach out to them in their grief and guilt, much like the Amish did to bring them into the circle of warmth?
Posted By Anonymous linda, bella vista : 10:36 PM ET
Hank - I graduated from Tech in '78 and my time there was one of the highlights of my life. It's been almost 30 years, but it doesn't lessen the pain of having something so horrific happen at a place I love so dearly. I could not be more proud of the manner in which the students, faculty, staff, administration, and family & friends of victims are handling this tragedy. I thank Nikki Giovanni from the bottom of my heart for the words of strength and hope. I don't easily find meaning in these types of situations, but I've learned something valuable from this one every day. What we learn and then put into practice will assure these lives were not lost in vain. Sending much love to a fellow Hokie.
Posted By Anonymous Ellen W, Asheville, NC : 11:28 PM ET
Let us remember that Cho was an AMERICAN of South Korean ancestry. He was as much American as Henry Kissinger or any other person who had spent the majority of his life in the United States. There is no reason for the Republic of South Korea to feel shame. We Americans are a violent culture that MUST learn to settle our greviences without resorting to violence. This young man was not of his right mind. He is as much a victim as are the other students. I will say a prayer for him as well as for all the others.
Posted By Anonymous Rabbi Gershon Caudill : 12:14 AM ET
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