Every TV newscaster in America had to do his or her job Wednesday, but it wasn’t easy. Most of us didn’t know Alison Parker or Adam Ward. But we all know someone like them.
The young, energetic morning reporter, with one of the toughest jobs in local TV. You have little or no time for a personal life. You’re in bed at 8 p.m., up at 3 a.m., and you’re asked to line up interviews and stories that are often cancelled when breaking news occurs. If there’s a fire, or an act of violence, you pack up and head to the scene. If the story is still going on at 3 p.m., you’re supposed to stay on it. Sometimes, you’re all alone. If you’re lucky, you have a photographer at your side. Somebody like Adam Ward.
Alison and Adam are like so many I’ve known. Every day is different in the news business. Some days your assignment is a true joy. You get to snuggle up to exotic animals in the local zoo, or greet the governor when he brings in new jobs. But other days, you’re sent to the most dangerous part of town, just moments after violence shattered a neighborhood.
You’re often on your own, with a bright light shining in your face, to better illuminate you for the camera. You’re the center of attention. People wave, hoping to get on camera. Most of the time, they’re nice. Some even compliment your work. But you never know, do you? Alison and Adam were focused on their jobs Wednesday morning. The reporter was giving her full attention to her interviewee, while the photographer made sure his subjects were well lit, perfectly framed, and in focus. What we all fear, became tragic reality. Within seconds, we lost Alison and Adam.
As viewers, we have no idea about the personal lives of the faces we see on TV.
We don’t know that she and a co-worker had fallen deeply in love, or that the unseen photographer is engaged to be married.
We don’t know that they may be planning new careers, that would enable them to work normal hours, and lead less hectic lives. We don’t know if they’re from our hometown, or moved here from far away. We see them on the local news, and too often, about the time we learn their names, they’ve moved on.
We now miss Alison and Adam, whether we knew them or not. All over America, we see other Alisons and Adams, working odd hours: early today, late tomorrow. When there’s a major story, they may work nonstop for days. If there’s a tornado, or a snowstorm, they often volunteer to come in on their “weekend,” whatever days of the week those may be.
Now that these young journalists have been taken from us in this most violent, horrible way, we know more about their lives. I didn’t know Alison and Adam, but I know so many like them. We must never take them for granted. They bring the world into your homes, often going to places you don’t want to go. Sadly, it can be at great personal risk.
All of us in TV news feel the pain. We know it could happen anywhere, for any number of reasons. We hold on to each other a little tighter now, we say “thank you” a little more often. Even our local competitors are part of the family. We share the same joys, the same frustrations, the same dangers. None of us ever wants to hear a grieving father say what was said about Alison Parker: “We talked to her every single day. Not hearing her voice again crushes my soul.”
WDBJ Channel 7 in Roanoke, Virginia did the news on Wednesday night, just hours after their world was shattered. Every other station did too, just as we do every night. It just wasn’t the same. It hurts when you lose family.
One final note: at WRCB, we have a fine man named John Creel, who does freelance work for us behind the scenes, and does it expertly. He knew we could use a boost on this sad day, so this is what he did.
He set up the grill, bought food out of his own pocket, and served up hot dogs to our entire crew. We were feeling down, so John provided some smiles. Yes, there is much negativity in this world, and we see it all too often on the news. But there are some shining lights too, and John’s heart for service inspires us all. (From David Carroll's ChattanoogaRadioTV.com)