Nets stay with full coverage of VT tragedy

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NEW YORK -- TV news divisions Tuesday continued their heavy coverage of the Virginia Tech shooting, with all three broadcast networks interrupting programming to televise a convocation held in honor of the 32 people killed a day earlier by a lone gunman.

All the networks' high-powered journalists were in Blackburg, Va., by Tuesday, including ABC anchor Charles Gibson, who had stayed behind in New York to preside over the coverage from there. NBC's Brian Williams and CBS' Katie Couric anchored their newscasts from the campus Monday and again Tuesday.

Monday and Tuesday's "CBS Evening News" were an hour; "NBC Nightly News" and ABC's "World News" went an hour Tuesday for expanded coverage, and both had limited commercial interruptions Monday. All three anchors interviewed President Bush and first lady Laura Bush, who attended Tuesday's memorial service.

CBS got a scoop Tuesday morning when correspondent Bob Orr was the first to identify the shooting suspect as Cho Seung-Hui, a South Korean immigrant who was a student at the university. The information was confirmed a short time later at a news conference.

All three networks scheduled primetime hours on the tragedy Tuesday, with a special Couric-hosted "48 Hours Mystery" and a Diane Sawyer-hosted "Primetime" as well as a "Dateline NBC" at 8 p.m. anchored by Stone Phillips from the campus. "Dateline NBC" averaged about 6.2 million viewers at 10 p.m. Monday for a special extended coverage.

CNN said the cell-phone video taken by a Virginia Tech student in which gunshots are clearly heard had been seen more than 2 million times on CNN.com. It also had new "American Morning" anchors John Roberts and Kiran Chetry on the scene with Larry King hosting a live "Larry King Live" from New York on the shootings instead of an interview with Couric that had been scheduled. CNN's 50th anniversary celebration of King has been pre-empted twice this week because of the Virginia Tech tragedy.

Coverage was to continue today with Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira hosting a second straight day of "Today" from Blacksburg.

MSNBC.com launched its own effort in cyberspace with the "On the Scene: Virginia Tech Massacre" blog that will focus on the students and staff of Virginia Tech. It joins a number of other blogs and sites that used their bandwidth to connect students to the rest of the world as well as remembrances and well-wishes.

MSNBC.com saw 15.3 million unique users on Monday -- up 37% from the previous record set during Hurricane Katrina. There also were 10 million video streams served Monday, another record.
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