ROANOKE, Virginia, — Reporters, camera operators and journalism colleagues everywhere openly struggled with their shock and grief on social media after TV reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were shot dead while reporting live on air here Wednesday.
It was, perhaps, an unusual display of emotion for people typically trained to keep feelings to themselves.
In the hours after the slaying of the two WDBJ-TV journalists, anchors, reporters and entire newsrooms posted tributes and photos in solidarity with the fallen journalists. Vicki Chen, a 24-year-old investigative producer with KVUE in Austin, Texas, called on her colleagues to use the hashtag #WeStandWithWDBJ.
“My photographer and I drove an hour outside of Austin for our story today, and at one point, stopped on the side of the road to shoot some video,” Chen said later.
“In that moment, in broad daylight, in a safe neighborhood, I suddenly felt a pang of fear. Are we in danger? Is this safe? But just as quickly as the feeling came, others replaced it. Indignation, maybe? Pride? I thought, I can stand here and be scared, or I can stand here and be a journalist, which is what Alison Parker and Adam Ward did.”
Chen’s simple gesture resonated throughout the industry. Entire newsrooms posed for photos expressing love and support for the WDBJ family as it began another day of news coverage Thursday. Reporters, producers and photographers on the early shift, preparing to go on the air before the sun was up, dedicated their live shots to Parker and Ward.
Across the board, TV journalists were shaken.
“Can’t imagine losing friends that way no less watching it live on TV,” Ashton Edwards, a news reporter with Fox 13 in Salt Lake City, Utah, tweeted Wednesday.
“When news people say we’re a family — we’re not exaggerating. Everyone who works in TV is mourning,” wrote Mark Meredith, a reporter for KDVR Fox 31 in Denver.
The Newseum in Washington shared a tribute from the museum.
Journalists also replaced their social media profile pictures with TV test pattern color bars in honor of the slain journalists.
Colleagues commended the Roanoke station for its grace and composure as it continued to report on the deaths of its own.
“Not sure how to keep working today, and I’m not in a newsroom. Hug your co-workers today, newsies — they’re your team, your family,” tweeted Karna Bergstrom, a digital content coordinator at the University of Minnesota-Rochester. Later, she wrote: “I can’t imagine putting together an obit piece on my co-workers.”
Makenzie Bowker of Headline News contributed to this report.