As of this writing, millions know the story about a young local television reporter and her photographer who were gunned down while they were live on the air during a morning broadcast on Wednesday, August 26. They were Alison Parker and Adam Ward. As details emerged about these young professionals, it seems that we got to know them. Certainly TV news professionals throughout the world's newsrooms felt a connection to these young victims because they have performed similar work. Doing live local television remote shoots is tough work under so many circumstances far too numerous to explain here, but the bottom line is, the work is tedious. That empathy extended beyond newsrooms because with technology, we quickly got to know Alison and Adam. Just hours after they were gunned down, we started calling them by their first names even though we didn't know them. We learned where Alison and Adam grew up, went to school and all the places where they had previously worked. As the hours unfolded, we discovered that they had significant others in their employer's newsroom, typical for small-town shops like WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia. Just like any crime victim, Alison and Adam were someone's child, sibling, aunt, uncle, friend, acquaintance and co-worker. We connected.
Again, here's another tragedy that hit home with so many of us in the United States and around the world. We identified with Alison, a hard-working, vibrant woman. We identified with Adam, a selfless photojournalist who seemed like your "everyday guy's guy" who would give you the shirt off his back. As the story unfolded, the archived social media photos and videos of Alison and Adam appeared on our television and computer screens. WDBJ produced a tribute story showing a plethora of Alison's and Adam's vast on-air work. Even a wonderful video of Alison which beautifully captured someone who wasfilled with an incredible amount of creativity, ambition and an appreciationfor life. Those close to the victims phoned in with their pained voices, recalling their encounters with Alison and Adam. With all of that, we connected.
Here in the States, many of us can identify with where Alison and Adam were conducting that interview on what looked like the top floor of a typical wooden-decked American plaza which overlooks a marina. It's the type of place that boating enthusiasts, families, shoppers and travelers visit for fun and recreation. So many of us can connect with that scene. Most likely Adam's last view of the world was looking at that calm lake as he panned across it through his viewfinder. We connected.
As me and millions around the globe viewed the horrific news out of the Roanoke, Virginia area on Wednesday, I was overcome with paralyzing numbness. Me and I'm sure millions have experienced that numbness before ranging from the Columbine High School massacre to 9/11. Whenever I get that feeling, I need to move forward. I am a runner and a cyclist. Periodically walking helps, just like it helped throughout the day on Wednesday. Later on, I just wanted serenity -- I needed that forward-motion feeling. I hopped on my bike. Luckily, it was another low humidity day in the Atlanta metro area so that helped as I was on my quest to escape those horrific images when the gunman ambushed Alison and Adam. Taking that bike ride helped with my deep sense of sadness that overcame me throughout the day. The ride temporarily took my mind off of this tragedy. I will not and cannot forget these brave journalists who were just doing their jobs that I can certainly identify with because I have done similar work. I connected.