On August 28 at 6:45 a.m., a reporter, cameraman and guest were senselessly shot during a live report. The reporter, Alison Parker, and cameraman, Adam Ward, were interviewing Vicki Gardner on WDBJ in Virginia when gunman, Vestor Flanagan, fired seven shots, killing Parker and Ward and injuring Gardner.
Flanagan was a former reporter by the name of Bryce Williams, who had been fired. News stations where Flanagan previously worked announced they’d fired him after he showed obscure behavior and was seemingly threatening towards coworkers.
Parker and Ward both have loved ones who are mourning deeply, some of whom are stepping up to speak out against situations like this. Parker’s father insists on fighting for stricter gun control. Others claim stations need to be more aware of the areas in which their employees are reporting from to avoid instances such as this one. Others still believe the video should not be shown as it’s too gruesome and personal.
Should gun control be stricter and should there be laws pertaining to one’s ability to buy a gun? Should reporters be limited to reporting only in non-threatening areas? Should stations be required to ensure that safety?
Gun control should be enforced, but not to the extent of “you aren’t allowed to own a gun for your safety or pleasure.” Rather, gun owners should have some sort of background check, making sure they are okay to be a gun owner. Reasons one should not be allowed by law to own a gun should include mental instability, hostile tendencies and proof of making irrational choices. We, as a people, deserve the right to own a gun at our own free will- whether we want it for sport, fun or protection.
As far as the safety of a reporting team in the field, there should be some sort of safety precautions—but they should not be limited to a specific area because it’s “safer” than another.
Newscasters should not be punished for the actions of others. Punishment in this sense means being denied access to report in a specific area because it could be unsafe and something could happen. A shooting could break out regardless of the amount of protection or the safety of the surrounding area.
Is posting the video of Parker and Ward’s untimely deaths a little too much? In some cases, yes. We must remember, the video was originally posted by Flanagan himself on Youtube. To have retrieved the shot through Ward’s view, one of his coworkers must have looked for that specific clip with the intent to show it to the world.
While showing their death may be a little gruesome and perhaps disrespectful, we must remember if they were reporting a murderous scene or a serious shooting, every gruesome detail would be shown on live TV, running and re-running- with no regard to anyone involved.
If the murder had happened to anyone other than a reporter and cameraman on live TV, no one would fuss over the ethics of sharing it with the world.