Letter from an Old Journalist…

As I write this, the lives of a photographer and reporter at a Virginia TV station were cut short in a ruthless act of violence during a live shot.

As a former reporter who will be in love with it forever, I am having difficulty understanding why such a thing would ever occur.

In 12 years of reporting, I look back and can recall a handful of times when it probably should’ve dawned on me that I could’ve been hurt or killed while doing my job.

But, at the time, it didn’t.  What was important to me was telling the story and telling it right.  This was an age prior to putting questions on social media when journalists would have to go to crime scenes to explain what had happened and make sense of something senseless.  We would have to go door-to-door sometimes in less-than-stellar neighborhoods to gauge reaction.

Case in point, in the early morning hours of June 2nd, 2006, I found myself running through the near east side of town following a seven-person massacre inside a home on Hamilton Avenue.  Dawn had barely broken and both suspects were still on the lam.  I went to a few homes where I saw lights on and knocked.  I was armed with nothing but a recorder, my ID, a notepad, pen, my phone and car keys.

The few neighbors who were willing to speak with me admitted their neighborhood had gone downhill in recent years and blight was a big concern.

Never once did it occur to me that one of the neighbors might pull a pistol on me.

I’ve been to school shootings with an active shooter.  I’ve been to countless SWAT standoffs.  The only crime I ever experienced was having my car broken into and then stolen in 2003, separate from my profession.

This duo wasn’t in a shady neighborhood.  They were just doing their jobs.  They had big plans for the future.

To my current journalist friends, keep doing what you’re doing.  This was an act of cowardice.  Keep being there and telling the stories that need to be told.

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