Shooting Changes The Way I See My Profession

By now, many of you have heard the story of the tragic shooting outside Roanoke, Virginia, Wednesday morning.

Alison Adam

24-year-old reporter Alison Parker and her 27-year-old photographer Adam Ward were shot and killed during a live broadcast on WDBJ7 news about tourism.

Vicki Gardner

The woman that was being interviewed, Vicki Gardner, was shot in the back and underwent surgery.  Her condition has stabilized.

The alleged shooter, a former employee at the station with the on-air name of Bryce Williams, was even live tweeting about the shooting and racism while police were looking for him.

WDBJ_BryceWilliams+169

Just before his Twitter account was suspended, he disgustingly posted video of the shooting from his point-of-view.  He ended up shooting himself and died at the hospital.

I didn’t know Alison and Adam.  However, they are colleagues and this could happen to any of us in television news or in any profession.  While the live broadcast can be found online, I want to remember Alison and Adam this way – happy.

Alison Adam Fun

As a television reporter, you usually go into work and pitch stories to determine what you’ll be covering for the newscast.

My only close call came in 1997, when I was a reporter for KLBK-13 in Lubbock, Texas.

I was covering a story about a daycare center that was temporarily shut down.  While my photographer was getting video from across the street, a man started yelling and cussing at us.

As he started across the street, I told the photographer to keep rolling on the man approaching.  He continued cussing us and I got between him and the photographer because he was trying to stop us from getting video.  He shoved me against the car and when he failed at knocking the camera to the ground, he walked away still fuming at us.

While the alleged Virginia gunman knew his victims, it doesn’t change the fact that this could have been just a random person with anger issues and wanted to take it out on a television reporter and photographer.

We’ve all seen the people that think it’s funny to stand behind a reporter and wave, make faces, or make rude remarks.  As a journalist, it’s not funny to us when we’re relaying the news on television.  Think about it, we wouldn’t walk into where you work and do the same thing.

And, after this tragedy, I hope it drives home the fact that it can be scary doing these reports when we don’t know what people’s intentions are as they approach us — unless they are ranting at us!  At that point, it’s pretty obvious that they’re not there to say “I love watching you on the news”.

Logos

The world of social media has changed the way we do our jobs and how we communicate with our viewers.  People not only watch us on television, but they follow us online and on their phones.

I’m speaking for myself here as a meteorologist and journalist when I say that I have a decent following on Facebook.  While I have a work page where I post just weather, a large portion of my Facebook friends are people that friend me because they know me from television.

Anthony CBS4

Because of that, there isn’t much that they don’t know about my life.

I’m okay with that because I’ve gotten to know many of them on a personal, if only online, basis.  I cherish that relationship and I also hope that people know that I’m approachable as long as it isn’t creepy!

In the wake of this unsettling, senseless tragedy that rocked my profession and took the lives of two of my colleagues who are loved and will be sorely missed by family and friends, it makes me want to take a step back and re-evaluate those I work with, those I correspond with, and those I choose to let into my world.

I hope you realize that we’re human just like you, even if it may come across that we’re “celebrities”.  I understand why the word is used, but I don’t buy into it.  My job is no different than yours.  Mine just happens to be more public.

Vicki Gardner, I hope you fully recover.  Alison and Adam, rest in peace and I hope your loved ones find solace one day.

Peace and love,

Anthony

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6 responses to this post.

  1. We saw this tragedy told on television this am. So sad!!! Be careful Anthony!!! We have the upmost respect for all the journalists’ on television. I wish people would think before they act.

    Reply

  2. Yes it is so sad about these 2 young people and what courage it takes for anyone to go out into this horrific world to work anymore. This can happen anywhere and at anytime. I love watching you on TV Anthony and I truly hope nothing ever happens to you, your family and your TV family. God Bless.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Andrea on August 28, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    Well put, old friend. Those of us who are in or have been part of a TV crew, on air or like Adam behind the scenes, are part of a family, disfunctional at times but a family nonetheless. And tho we did not know Alison or Adam, this hit home for some of us HARD. Senseless violence perpetrated on people just trying to do their job. I just shake my head, pray for their loved ones, and hope and pray those I know and care for that are still in the TV business stay safe. Stay safe, A.

    Reply

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