WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Journalists Murdered in America While Doing Their Jobs

Sep 1, 2015

Reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward of WDBJ-TV in Roanoke, Virginia, died last week when they were shot and killed while doing a live story from a water park.  The woman they were interviewing was wounded.

The killer is a former co-worker, Vester Lee Flanigan, who used the TV name of Bryce Williams.  He later died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Shop Talk panelists Jasmine Crighton and Jonathan Ahl both looked up Williams’ Twitter account shortly after Parker and Ward were murdered. They saw the comments Williams posted shortly before the shootings, and were surprised to see his video of the attack pop into the feed while looking at their screens. 

Both found it surreal to know a killer posted a video of his crime as they were looking at his page.  Ahl said it rattled him.  Crighton said she could not believe what she was seeing.

Crighton has worked in several TV markets, including Las Vegas, and has sent many reporters out on stories. She said the attack might have a small effect for a while, but added stations will always send reporters into the field.

Panelist Rich Egger questioned the need for some live reports from the field.  For example, why do some TV stations have reporters do live stories outside a courthouse at 10:00 p.m. even though the day’s legal proceedings ended hours earlier and the courthouse closed hours earlier?