Media Industry Reacts to Roanoke Journalist Killings

The killings of a morning TV news team in southwestern Virginia Wednesday (Aug. 26) drew immediate and strong reaction from broadcast and journalism associations, as well as the White House press secretary.

“RTDNA is horrified and saddened by the senseless deaths of Alison Parker and Adam Ward, the two WDBJ employees,“ said Mike Cavender, executive director of the Radio, Television and Digital News Association, calling the double murder of the reporter and videographer during a live broadcast only the latest in a "continuing series" of attacks.

“While the shootings are under investigation, our most sincere sympathies go out to their families and friends and all who worked with them at WDBJ," Cavendar added. "Tragically, these shootings are the worst example in a continuing series of attacks on live television crews. Safety and security of our people is always of paramount concern, but as these attacks show, such violence can occur even in the most unexpected of situations.”

National Association of Broadcasters president Gordon Smith said: "Today’s news of the tragic murders of broadcast journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward is heartbreaking and horrifying. These were two young journalists who were simply trying to serve and inform their communities. Our broken hearts go out to the families of Alison and Adam, to the staff at WDBJ, and to the employees of [station owner] Schurz Communications."

Carlos Lauría, senior Americas program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said: "We do not yet know the motive of the attack that killed Alison Parker and Adam Ward, but we do know that being a journalist is potentially dangerous anywhere in the world. We condemn this fatal shooting and send our condolences to the journalists' families and colleagues."

At least 39 journalists have been killed on the job worldwide so far this year, according to CPJ. But killings of U.S. journalists in this country are relatively rare, CPJ said. Five journalists have been killed since 1992, the most recent in August 2007 when Chauncey Bailey, editor of the Oakland Post, in Oakland, Calif., was fatally shot.

That figure does not include the robbery and pistol whipping of a KTVU San Francisco news team last month as they, too, were doing a live morning news segment.

Josh Earnest, White House press secretary, said he had not talked to the President about the shooting but said their thoughts and prayers are with the family. He called it another instance of gun violence becoming all too common and called for Congress to take tangible steps to reduce gun violence, which he said would not infringe on the rights of law-abiding Americans.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.