At first I couldn’t believe my eyes. My mind instantly went to the dangerous scenarios we find ourselves in on a weekly basis. The protests, the late night crime scenes, the days that require ringing doorbells where you don’t know who or what is on the other side of that door. I assumed this was a drive-by. But when I read this was a story on tourism at a water park, I was stunned.
The last year reporting in my amazing, but at times dangerous, hometown of St. Louis has driven home the need to always have your head on a swivel. When my photographer is shooting my live shot, my eyes are constantly looking behind him. But these are scenes where danger feels possible. Where there’s a chance something bad is lurking just past our camera. A water park is not one of those places. Or at least it shouldn’t be.
All day I’ve seen the smiling faces of Alison and Adam, those goofy selfies that look exactly like the ones I’ve taken with my photographers. In Knoxville, my photographer and I joked that I was his work wife and he my work husband because that’s how much time we spent together.
A newsroom is a family and especially smaller newsrooms. Many of us move to cities far from home where we don’t know a soul and that newsroom family becomes your lifeline. Most journalists haven’t spent a Thanksgiving or Christmas with their family in years, but you can bet we’ve all shared a plate of Christmas cookies or gathered at a Hooters for some Christmas chicken wings because it’s the only place open. And today there’s a whole newsroom mourning the loss of their family members.
I can’t fathom the shock, the hurt and the anger inside WDBJ right now. And despite it all, despite the horrific, unimaginable thought of watching your co-worker, your family, gunned down on live TV, they carried on. They carried on and delivered the news. They carried out thoughtful, accurate and impactful continuing coverage of this tragedy. Like I said, I don’t know Alison and Adam but I bet that’s what they would have wanted. Because as journalists that’s what we do. We strive each and every day to deliver the news, the news that our viewers depend on us for. Sometimes it’s hard, sometimes it’s near impossible to hold back the tears, but we do it because it’s our job and it’s our passion.
Every shooting we report on is sad, heck, I was in the process of writing a post on the two young children that have been killed by guns just this week. Two tragedies that have hit me hard. But this one hits too close to home. Because as I head out the door to my 10:00 liveshot, I can put myself in Alison’s shoes. She was murdered doing what she loved. Adam was murdered doing what he loved. And tonight I know I will be extra aware of my surroundings, there will be an uneasiness, but I refuse to let fear take over. I will stand in front of that camera and continue to do what I love with the thoughts of Alison and Adam in my mind and in my heart.