SPJ and SPJ Georgia respond to death of Virginia journalists
“The Society of Professional Journalists is deeply saddened and shocked by the news today regarding the fatal shootings of WDBJ-7 journalists Alison Parker, 24, and Adam Ward, 27,” said Paul Fletcher, president-elect of the Society of Professional Journalists.
Parker, a reporter, and Ward, a videographer, were on assignment for a feature story in Moneta, Va., for the CBS affiliate in Roanoke, Va. Reports say the gunman knew the victims and was a disgruntled former co-worker. According to recent CNN reports, Sheriff Bill Overton of Franklin County, Virginia, said, Vester L. Flanagan II, the suspect in the slayings of two WDBJ-TV journalists, died at a hospital Wednesday afternoon of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
“There was a moment of silence around noon at the Atlanta Press Club luncheon, and it was later announced during the panelists presentation that the gunman shot himself,” said Sharon Dunten, president of SPJ Georgia, who attended the Atlanta downtown event who featured Atlanta’s broadcast news directors. The directors each responded to the shooting by saying that caution is always taken when journalists are reporting in public, and if the reporters feel uncomfortable or in danger in any news situation, they are asked to leave the scene immediately, said Dunten.
As reported and seen in the graphic videos of the shootings, the victims had very little warning before they were shot and killed.
“While journalists know the inherent risks of reporting in war zones or in areas of unrest abroad, I am sure these two young journalists never imagined doing an early morning live shot at a local recreational plaza would have been so dangerous or deadly. The senseless loss of these lives is tragic,” Fletcher said.
Parker was the morning reporter for the Roanoke station, says the station’s website. She joined WDBJ last year after completing a summer internship as a news reporter in 2012. Parker previously worked with WCTI-TV, in Jackson, N.C., near the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.
Ward joined WDBJ in 2011 after graduating from Virginia Tech with a degree in communication and media studies, according to his Facebook page. He enrolled at the university in 2007, the same year a gunman went on a deadly rampage, leaving 32 people dead.
“We also wish the third victim, Vicki Gardner, of the Smith Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce, a full recovery,” said Fletcher.
SPJ and SPJ Georgia give our deepest condolences to the journalists’ families, friends and WDBJ-7 team.