Robin Knepper, a staff reporter for the Free Lance-Star a Virginia community paper didn't cover the Virginia Tech shootings but found herself facing the same issues of many readers -- how to control her emotions.
“As a reporter my humanity had to override everything,” Knepper said during Thursday's Virginia Tech panel. “Consoling was something I spent a lot of time doing.”
Knepper said she personally called the families of those living in her beat area of Orange once she found out their children were alright.
"I feel like it's perfectly normal to do that in a tragedy."
Her behavior was in stark contrast to the experiences recounted by Austin Morton, who told the panel audience that she was dismayed by the actions of journalist covering the shooting. Some entered locked dorms, others pretended to be handicapped, and many pressured her to talk even after she said no.
Morton was the resident assistant on the same floor as the Virgina Tech shooter. Because of her position she was often contacted by reporters trying to get the most recent news.
“The potential for excess in this situation was huge,” Morton said. “You could go crazy with this and people did."
Morton said the reporters who covered the tragedy most effectively were the ones who respected the privacy of the witnesses.