Home Opinion Columns Let’s do them justice: A student journalist’s response to the Virginia shooting

Let’s do them justice: A student journalist’s response to the Virginia shooting

Screencap via CNN
Screencap via CNN
Screencap via CNN

By Kayla Tucker – Managing Editor

Stop killing the journalists.

I have always had a passion for what’s happening. News, travel, trends, people’s life stories. In other words, I’m pretty nosy. In high school, I aspired to be an international journalist. When it was all over the news that ISIS was beheading journalists overseas, it was obvious that the field – in certain areas – was becoming more dangerous. And publicized. To the great relief of my parents, I set that dream aside and decided to focus on the journalism aspect, and not so much the travel part.

During my freshman year of college, I followed my passion as an editor and reporter at The Collegiate. I was finally able to be in the newsroom setting, learning and doing all the things I’d always imagined. I found my niche.

I’m now going into my second year of college as Managing Editor at The Collegiate. Our team of editors has been working hard all summer reporting stories, updating our website, training new staff and publishing a newly formatted newspaper. In just a short amount of time, I have learned so many new skills. I’m confident in my reporting and interviewing skills, and have been practicing my photography much more, too.

On a recent morning, I was walking into the office when I got a breaking news alert from CNN.

“Two journalists fatally shot during an interview on live TV.”

WDBJ7 TV reporter Allison Parker, 24, and Photographer Adam Ward, 27, were shot on live television during an interview at Bridgewater Plaza in Roanoke, Virginia, with Vicki Gardner, a chamber of commerce executive.

Instantly I felt my heart drop to my stomach. I haven’t been in this field for long, but another journalist down – more lives lost – hurts the same every time, from ISIS beheadings to the Charlie Hebdo massacre in France. This surreal moment, of going into do the job someone just lost their life doing, made me think of what I do, why I do it, and the amazing field I’m going into.

Stop killing the creators.

We all share this cult-like obsession with people, places, events, and documenting it all. We share a unique goal – to inform the public, and share unbiased information to ensure a fair society and to keep people accountable.

This specific incident may not represent a generalized look at the dangers international journalists face every day, but it brings up a lot of emotion. It throws just a little bit more gas on the flames.

The long-standing goal of the journalism industry is to inform the people in a timely, fair manner about things they might not have known otherwise. Whether it be breaking news, arts and entertainment, professional or local high school sports, all is covered and is important to some readership.

We are a team.

Get the quote. Get the perfect photo. Fit all the stories on the page. Get enough ads to fund a full-size paper. Spark a laugh with a timely political cartoon that hurts just right. Start a conversation with a fiery column. Make connections with the locals.

Create. Not destroy.

The killer was a former journalist. A former comrade. Someone who dared enter the world of crazy people who put their passion over an overflowing bank account.

No justice.

The worst part about the whole thing is that the poor families of Ward and Parker cannot truly receive the justice deserved. After being chased by the FBI he killed himself. After leaving his horrible mark on the world, he is gone. After affecting the hearts and nerves of many, in the world, our country, the state of Virginia, and the families of the late victims.

The only thing to do is keep working.

Keep fighting, reporters. We work daily to protect the rights of the people and to uphold the First Amendment. In this day and age, sometimes it is truly a life-threatening task to follow your passion. It’s not just the war zones anymore, it’s a dangerous world.

Our armor is our words. Our pictures, videos, and recordings. By not letting this world and the horrible people in it scare us away from producing our own little masterpieces, we are bringing justice to Ward and Parker. That’s what they would have wanted. Write, produce, repeat.

Rest in peace.


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