Service pays tribute to slain television reporter, cameraman

31 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Alison Parker and Adam Ward murders: Killers should not be allowed to set the agenda.

Virginia Tech will have stickers on its helmets against Ohio State on September 6 to honor the two Roanoke television station employees killed earlier in the week. ROANOKE, Va. (AP) — Community religious leaders gathered Sunday to remember 24-year-old reporter Alison Parker and 27-year-old cameraman Adam Ward, the two television journalists who were shot and killed while working last week.Andy Parker, the father of the news reporter who was shot dead with her cameraman live on air in Virginia on Wednesday, on Sunday vowed again to succeed in his push for gun control legislation, saying: “They messed with the wrong family.” Alison Parker, 24, and Adam Ward, 27, worked for WDBJ7, a Virginia station.

The interfaith service at the Jefferson Center in Roanoke was filled with somber prayers across several religions, along with music from the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra and others. They were fatally shot during an on-air interview, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015, in Moneta, Va. (Courtesy of WDBJ-TV via AP) The husband of Vicki Gardner, the woman who narrowly escaped death Wednesday morning in a televised ambush shooting near Roanoke, Va., deserves our attention. Marks said he suspected that the most you would get out of Parker was an “emphatic ‘darn,” and then she would be back hard at work. “Mental illness cannot exist on the periphery of health care,” Marks said. “It should be obvious that it needs to be center stage because most mental illness is treatable if we can get to the sufferer.

On CNN on Sunday, Parker said he and his daughter’s boyfriend, Chris Hurst, wanted to lead a concerted push for reform on issues including basic background checks on all gun purchases, and cited offers of support from gun control activists and groups. “I have been in contact with Mark Kelly, who is Gabby Giffords’ husband, who was very gracious to reach out to me,” he said. “And we’re going to get together in Washington. The murders were not enough in themselves, in other words, but needed to be understood as the opening act in a process designed to gain the perpetrator worldwide notoriety. In this case, we didn’t.” Ward and Parker were on an early morning assignment for WDBJ-TV at Smith Mountain Lake when Vester Lee Flanagan walked up and shot them and Vicki Gardner, a Chamber of Commerce official, with a 9mm Glock pistol during a live interview. Senator [Mark] Warner has also, you know, told me: ‘Whatever we can do to help and facilitate that, let me know.’ Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg’s people have reached out.” Parker added: “You always think there’s a tipping point. The Roanoke killer got what he wanted: thousands of people viewed the video before it was taken down, while anyone who had missed it could have seen stills on the front pages of several British newspapers.

Flanagan, who went as Bryce Williams on-air, also allegedly posted a video of the attack to Twitter. “It’s extremely important that the families and loved ones of Allison Parker, Adam Ward, and WDBJ-TV, know that we stand united with them through this painful time,” Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said via WDBJ. “My heart is absolutely broken for the Parker and Ward families and my prayer is that they gain strength and peace through the support and love of this community.” We always thought that when Gabby was shot, something would happen; with Sandy Hook, something would happen; with Aurora, something would happen, and it never did.” Parker’s rhetorical approach echoed that of Senator Bernie Sanders, the independent Vermont senator who had appeared on the programme in the preceding interview to repeat his message against the “same old, same old” procession of politics in Washington. “He said, and it applied to another matter, ‘same old, same old’ doesn’t work, and it applies to this issue. Some showed the killer’s hand with flame emerging from the gun he’s holding; the barrel is aimed squarely at Alison Parker, the TV reporter who died seconds later, just before the killer turned on his second victim, a camera operator called Adam Ward. On its inside pages, The Sun published a horrifying sequence of pictures which showed Ms Parker’s mouth open in an “O” of terror as she realised the peril she was in and tried vainly to run. Controlling the loopholes in gun shows, doing those kind of things.” Sanders has been criticised by other candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination for allegedly being relatively lax on gun control.

I think they were right: the killer’s modus operandi was an invitation to voyeurism, encouraging individuals with no connection to the victims to indulge a ghoulish curiosity. If one of my friends had just been murdered in this brutal way, I would be horrified to think that footage was being viewed by total strangers on Facebook alongside videos of cute kittens. But there’s another and arguably even more powerful argument against providing links or publishing stills, which is that it allows the killer to set the news agenda.

In some disturbing ways, he resembles Dylann Roof, the self-professed white supremacist who killed nine black parishioners in a Charleston, South Carolina church in June. Last autumn, this newspaper took a stand against publishing images from a video showing the beheading of a British hostage, Alan Henning, by the organisation calling itself Islamic State.

In a memorable front page, The Independent on Sunday pointed out that Mr Henning had been killed on camera for the sole purpose of propaganda. “Here is the news,” it declared. “Not the propaganda.” The issues raised by last week’s shooting are very similar. “It’s like showing those beheadings,” said Ms Parker’s father, Andy. “I am not going to watch it. I can’t watch it.” Mr Parker isn’t the first relative to highlight the additional anguish inflicted by the knowledge that a murder has been recorded by the perpetrator.

The family of James Foley, the American photo-journalist who appeared in the first of a series of IS “beheading” videos last year, appealed to the media not to publish stills showing him in an orange jumpsuit. The worldwide publicity given to Mr Foley’s murder, when some newspapers published links to the video of his beheading, created a horrible sense of anticipation. More murder videos were released over a period of weeks but IS’s strategists seem to have been prepared for the eventuality that their shock value would gradually diminish.

In the US, several mass killers have prepared material for the media in advance of their crimes even though they knew they were unlikely to live to see publication. The man who murdered 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012 may have assumed that the massacre was sufficiently shocking to seize the attention he wanted, without having to issue a video “manifesto”. And while I have disabled the “autoplay” function on my Twitter account, I couldn’t avoid front pages showing Ms Parker’s murder in my local Sainsbury’s. Governments, politicians and multi-national corporations would rather that certain material isn’t published, and it’s the job of editors to resist their efforts to bury bad news. It seems evident that Flanagan cataloged a lifetime of sleights – real or imagined – to develop a dangerous antipathy toward white females, black males, and anyone or anything else that offended him.

Increasingly, I fear we will be confronted with unbearable images created by such people, who wish to amplify the shock and offense caused by their crimes. Stricter gun control laws, carefully designed to keep weapons out of the hands of people with dangerous anti-social tendencies, might avert some of the carnage. But a more difficult challenge concerns dealing not with the people who are clearly mentally ill, but with borderline characters who are bitter, entitled, and willing to act out violently when denied or offended.

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