A Young Journalist's Reflection on Tragedy in Roanoke

Today, I watched a murder happen on my screen. It wasn't a TV show, it wasn't a movie, it was real life and it was surreal. Today, Alison Parker and Adam Ward lost their lives to another act of senseless violence in this country.

As a journalist and just as a human being, I can't seem to wrap my head around the unfathomable events and the demeanor in which they happened in Roanoke, Virginia. I will never be able to un-see what I saw today and my heart breaks knowing that Adam and Alison's family and friends had to see it too.

What makes what happened in Roanoke more horrifying is that we have created a culture where this keeps happening. Tragedy after tragedy, everyone asks, "When will it stop?" The reality of it is that it doesn't. 

Over and over again we have seen the downsides of social media, but today especially, I am truly sickened to have seen the way in which the shooter used live TV, Twitter and Facebook and those who gave him more power by sharing the videos.

Furthermore, I'm truly disappointed in the news networks and organizations who replayed the live TV attack, knowing this could have been any of them in that situation. We as journalists have a responsibility to uphold the Code of Ethics and I believe many members of the media failed to to do so today by not carrying out the second pillar to "Minimize Harm". The pillar reads, "Balance the public's need for information against potential harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance or undue intrusiveness."

Today, I think about Alison and Adam with a very heavy heart. I think about their families, Alison's boyfriend Chris Hurst, and Adam's fiancé Melissa Ott, the show's morning producer, who watched the tragedy unfold live in the station's control room. Today was supposed to be a day of celebration for Melissa and Adam, celebrating Melissa's last day with the station, but instead, she has had to suffer what I would imagine to be the worst day of her life.

I think about my friend Charlie who is in her first week of work as a reporter for WDBJ7. I think about all of my classmates from Syracuse who are stationed around the country working for news organizations just like WDBJ. Today, I think about how truly fragile life really is.

The thing about journalists is that we do what we do because we genuinely love it. It takes a lot of dedication, passion and energy to do what we do. The interviews, the live shots, the overnight shifts -- it's all a part of a job that we can agree is worth every stress, every technical difficulty, every struggle to hit that deadline to get our packages edited, etc. 

It's our jobs as journalists to tell stories that help change the world we live in for the better and as tragic as the events that occurred today are, I pray that we all can take many lessons from it that will make Adam and Alison proud. We all feel a special sadness today for the loss of two people who we may not know personally, but feel connected with by the titles and duties we share as journalists.

Instead of giving more attention to the wrong person, take a moment to remember the lives of Alison Parker and Adam Ward by visiting WDBJ7.

WDBJ7, my thoughts, prayers and deepest condolences are with you all during this difficult time. #WeStandWithWDBJ