Journalism is under attack. The reporters are the soldiers, and our battlefield is the space that we type in.
Well, typing for most, that is. Some are brave enough to put their faces and bodies on a different battlefield: a television screen.
Two reporters did just that Wednesday morning. By that evening, we had two more casualties to report.
WDBJ reporter Alison Parker was 24 years old. She loved Mexican food, kayaking and television. One of her favorite characters was Walter White of “Breaking Bad.” She fell in love with WDBJ7 anchor Chris Hurst, and the couple moved in together in early August. They were saving up money for a wedding. Hurst told his mother “I finally found my teammate.”
Parker was the first to get shot.
Her camera man Adam Ward caught it all on camera. In that moment, everyone watching the television was seeing the same thing Ward was: his colleague and friend getting shot three times as she tried to get away.
Coworkers have described both journalists as good human beings — people with emotions, concerns, quirks and characteristics that made them who they are. They were good reporters, and they were better people.
The violent taking of their lives is, in every sense of the word, senseless. Nobody deserves the fate that these two suffered.
What bothers me most about this case is that, despite how tragic the situation is, it isn’t the only time it has happened.
In the past 10 years, at least 40 journalists a year have died while reporting on a story, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. The largest number of casualties was 74 in 2012.
Some were caught in the crossfire while on the other side of the world in Iraq or Syria. Others were publicly executed as a warning to others who would speak out against evil and violence. You might find it interesting that the area of coverage to suffer the greatest amount of casualties is not crime, but politics.
Whatever the case may be, journalists like Parker and Ward are all over the world doing their jobs. They have families, friends and lives outside of the newsroom just like Parker and Ward did.
There’s only one reason why Parker and Ward’s deaths are getting all the media attention and not others: it was broadcast on national television.
We can’t just care about the reporters deaths that we know about. We need to be aware of all the sacrifices that journalists make on a daily basis and why they voluntarily make those sacrifices. Too many journalists have lost too much for the sake of their jobs.