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Technology Helped Virginia Tech Students Connect After Tragedy

In the wake of shootings that left 33 members of their community dead, Virginia Tech students went to Web sites such as Facebook and MySpace to memorialize friends and make sense of the carnage.

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    As events in Blacksburg, Va., unfolded Monday, the world saw this: video shot with a cell phone, taken by Virginia Tech student Jamal Albarghouti. The footage, run repeatedly on CNN, allowed the audience to hear the gunshots from Norris Hall, where 31 people, including the gunman, died.

    CNN anchors then interviewed Albarghouti, referring to him as "our I-reporter," part of a project encouraging viewers to submit what's known as citizen journalism.

    JAMAL ALBARGHOUTI, Virginia Tech Student and Reporter: I knew this was something way more serious. It was then when I decided to use my camera.


    In recent big stories from the 2004 tsunami, to the 2005 London subway bombings, TV news organizations have relied more and more on contributions from nonprofessional eyewitnesses.

    In Blacksburg, ABC broadcast these cell phone images taken inside Norris Hall. Martin Clancy is senior producer for ABC News Digital.

  • MARTIN CLANCY, ABC News Digital:

    Well, reporting has gone beyond shoe leather and phone calls. This is a much more efficient way to reach a lot of people, to gather a lot of information. Granted, it's a lot more work to verify it, to bring it up to broadcast or publishing standards.

    But this is a really much more efficient way to gather information and to get input and to discover perspectives you didn't even know existed. I think there's no end to this. We used to play with getting e-mails from viewers. What started as a trickle of e-mails has become a flood. What is now a trickle of video is going to become, I predict, a flood of video.