My sincerest thoughts and most uplifting prayers go out to the family and friends of Alison Parker and Adam Ward. Their deaths were an absolute tragedy to everyone in the media community. I hope people stop spreading the horrific video shot by the killer during their last live shot assignment. No need to glorify his final actions.
While this is a terrifying tragedy, I also hope the nation opens their eyes to a major problem in the broadcast community. Having experience as a MMJ (do all stories alone) it has become unsafe! And small live shots when there is no one else around, between 11pm and 5am employees should have protection at.
Before I left Texas my family decided I needed to get my CHL since I am a single female. I needed a way to provide safety for myself if the time ever came. My employer informed me I was not allowed to carry anything that could be considered a weapon at any point in time while on the duty. Not allowing station employees to protect themselves if needed is not only dangerous but in today’s world deadly. No one can ever predict when something unthinkable is going to take place, but being prepared for those instances is something that needs to be addressed to GM’s and broadcast companies. There is always the chance a reporters or photographers will be put in danger when they are trying to break news, putting a camera in someone’s face or someone’s just really wanting to be on TV. I know in this instance the shooter was once an employee of the station, but in any instant people can turn on a reporter and the situation can become hostile.
I don’t speak of my station experience much, but my decision to remove myself from the MMJ/General News reporting world was because I was put in a situation that I felt uncomfortable and fearful for my safety. I was sent on a story in an Acadiana Perish located in part of town that I was unwelcome. In order to get my story for the day, I had to call the sheriff’s department to escort me back to the neighborhood I was told viciously to leave. After explaining to the deputy the synopsis of my assignment and why I needed an escort. I conveyed my fears and he proceeded to explain the area we were in. I quickly realized the hostility of the residents greeting me in the neighborhood might have saved my life that day. Upon returning to the station I expressed my concerns of being a female and going on stories alone in that area were not safe. I was told that my employer/station had the right to send me wherever they felt a news story was to be broken. I was instructed if I carried my gun to protect myself, or anything that could be considered a weapon, I was in a breech of contract and a liability to the company. At that point I had to really evaluate if my 13 dollars an hour was worth my safety or life. It was time to leave.
Then when I moved to Kansas City I was faced with fear again when a disgruntled member or the media did not think I deserved my job. The emails I received threatening me and demeaning me were enough to upset even the kindest and sweet spirited of people. When I took it to the police they laughed at me and informed me there was nothing I could do. Having me constantly looking over my shoulder for this person that knew me because I was on tv and thought I undeserving of my job. I understand this is apart of the industry I chose, but not feeling protected by the law or my gun that I have a CHL to carry is not something I hope anyone else has to feel. We reporters have no protection unless someone threatens to kill us, this is unsettling to me.
The media community has now become a target like movie theaters, schools, and play grounds. Reporters and photographers are sitting ducks in this situation because they are focusing on 100 things they have to do to give the viewers a compelling story. I hope stations across the nation take notice to this! Sending your MMJ’s out alone should no longer be an option! Guns don’t kill people, people kill people!