The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Editor's blog

March 22, 2013

News and comment: Guns, hockey crowds, school shooting hoaxes

In another installment of "News of the week in your corner of the world in 10 minutes or less," we have these offerings.

Biggest news of the week: A 12-year old called 911 not once but twice Wednesday about 8 a.m. to say there was a shooter at his school, two people were injured and he needed help. Dozens of law enforcement from ground and air descended on the quaint little town of New Prague in the middle of southern Minnesota's farm country. Our story here.

Police described it as a hoax and prank by about 9 to 10 a.m. The young man was taken into custody and likely faces juvenile proceedings.

Comment: The biggest news turned out not to be news at all, really. The silver lining, if there really is one, comes from the idea that this was one big drill for all involved. School officials said staff and students and administration performed admirably, did what they were supposed to do.

Whether broadcast and social media did what they were supposed to do is sort of up for debate. I watched one Twin Cities television station go on the air and spend 2-3 minutes talking about the fear of parents, the chaos of the situation, the threats to students and say the fact that nobody was hurt was as yet "unconfirmed."

It had gone with this "angle" before telling people it was also "unconfirmed" that this was a hoax. The wires had from law enforcement officials that it was a hoax a good 45 minutes before that news report aired.

One newsroom cynic pronounced: "This is the kind of thing TV lives for."

Can't say I disagree.

Second (or maybe third) biggest news of the Week: Minnesota State University has perhaps never had a bigger sports weekend than last weekend.

Its men's basketball program hosted the NCAA Div. II Central Regional Playoff, while down the hill, MSU hockey was vying for a chance to go to the WCHA Final Five for the first time in about 10 years.

MSU basketball made it to the championship game of the tourney, with a trip to the Elite Eight on the line and lost by three points in overtime to arch rival Winona State.

MSU hockey beat Nebraska-Omaha, but it took three full games.

Fans counts for hockey ranged from 3,300 to 2,400 or so, far below this year's record of nearly 5,000. MSU basketball had good crowds, but you always want more. The two events at the same time probably split the crowds making each event look less than what one might expect.





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