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A Journalist’s Reaction to the Shooting of Alison Parker and Adam Ward

I am a journalist. I am 24. I grew up in Virginia. I could have been news anchor Alison Parker, cameraman Adam Ward, or even Vicky Gardner, the interviewee also shot.

Published: August 27, 2015 2:39 AM IST

By Chhaya Nene

Alison Parker Adam Ward

[Photo Source: Twitter/Leon Hendrix]

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I am a journalist. I am 24. I grew up in Virginia. I could have been WDBJ7 news anchor Alison Parker, cameraman Adam Ward, or even Vicky Gardner, the interviewee also shot.

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This morning, I woke up to the news of their murder on live television—their partners, and the world, saw them die. I am having a hard time letting that sink in.

Nobody’s profession is ever easy, but to choose to be a journalist is a choice of love. It is a choice to be a public servant, to live a life that requires you to be constantly alert, sacrifice time with family, partners, friends, personal time and children for that moment of breaking news.

To be a journalist means for many taking on crippling student loans to attend school and even grad school because you believe in something greater than yourself. You believe in helping others and shining a light on those who rarely get to see it. It means taking an audience for a journey to places they never get to go, to hear stories they themselves would never get to hear, see, or experience physically.

Parker had just worked on a story covering child abuse. Ward had been a cameraman, one of the most dangerous jobs worldwide. Today, they were a team once again, this time interviewing Vicky Gardner from the Smith Mouth Lake Chamber of Commerce.

I cannot tell you everything Parker and Ward experienced together, but I can tell you this—they worked their asses off. Being a journalist, moving from small town to small town, being on the air at 24 and a cameraman at 27 requires being a jack of all trades. It requires honing your craft and knowing that you are responsible for creating content that is going on air, whether you are ready or not. It requires knowing that you are responsible for the news you present and that you have a moral duty to your audience for reporting stories in an honest, diverse, fair, consistent manner.

I have been on live television, and have watched outstanding journalists broadcast live—I can assure you in that moment your focus is on your interview, your story, your art, making that connection and bringing the story alive for so many. Parker and Ward were no different—without knowing them, or even having met them, I know they were both in the zone wholeheartedly of creating their work.

To Chris Hurst (Parker’s boyfriend of nearly nine months and fellow anchor), Melissa Ott (Ward’s fiancé), and Vicky Gardner’s family: I cannot imagine the pain and shock you all are going through, but I can assure you that everyone is thinking of you—especially journalists. Every journalist on my Facebook or social media is hurting and sending blessings, thoughts, and prayers your way. If it brings any comfort in any way, you are not alone. We are with you.

For more information about Parker, Ward, and reactions to the shooting, check out this Storify.

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Published Date: August 27, 2015 2:39 AM IST