Alison Parker and Adam Ward. Two names we’ve become painfully familiar with since their callous murders by a former colleague at WDBJ television in Virginia.
I’ve thought a great deal about Alison and Adam since the news of their deaths tore into a Wednesday morning, where earlier elections and roller coaster stock markets led as primary stories on broadcast news.
Looking at their faces and seeing video clips of their work, I knew Alison and Adam.
I know Alison and Adam because I’ve met them through other youthful members of the media engaged in the business of reporting.
For many years I was the youngest broadcaster at radio stations where I was thrilled and felt privileged to turn on a microphone. As time marched along, younger members of the profession arrived, always happily sharing the excitement of having landed a gig and ever enthusiastic about telling their stories.
Whether you’re a member of the media, or a completely unrelated profession, you too have witnessed the arrival of the next generation, eager and ready to carry the torch forward.
Alison Parker and Adam Ward carried that torch until Vester Flanagan, a malevolent, apparent chronic complainer, brooding and troublesome (police were called to remove him from the television station on the day of his dismissal), interrupted a live broadcast and committed acts of callous murder.
Flanagan erased the lives of Alison Parker and Adam Ward. he destroyed personal dreams as Adam’s fiancée Melissa Ott witnessed the act from the station control room in her role as morning show producer. Flanagan also destroyed plans of marriage for Allison and WDBJ reporter Chris Hurst.
That wasn’t enough for Flanagan. He posted video to Twitter. And then he ran and committed suicide.
The news business is immensely rewarding. It can also be deeply disturbing. That depends on the story or stories making headlines on a given day.
Yesterday was deeply disturbing.
A personal act of utter callous brutality thrust the names, faces and lives of four young people into the headlines, shoving aside at least temporarily the world’s concerns about staggering stock markets and political campaigning.
Alison Parker and Adam Ward are dead. Melissa Ott and Chris Hurst have
been robbed of their future spouses. A chronic complainer is to blame.
I know the youngest in my profession will feel the impact of the last 36 hours most deeply. Their families will worry.
There is no easy way to end this posting. That is the way of news when a loss is both reported and felt.