The tragic shootings in Roanoke on Wednesday hit particularly hard at WTOC for obvious reasons.
Beyond the shooters prior connection to the station, all of us in the broadcast business feel an extra degree of sorrow about the deaths of these young people. They were simply doing their jobs, much the same as journalists here in Savannah and across the country, do every day.
One might expect the potential to be in harm's way when trekking across the globe to cover a military operation or terrorist related event, but that wasn't the case in Roanoke. No one would think that doing a feature on tourism would bring about the horrific end to the young woman and man, simply doing their jobs.
Despite what many think, people get into the news business because they are passionate about sharing information, uncovering the truth, and helping keep their communities informed and safe, particularly in moments of crisis. It's a highly competitive industry that brings long hours, less pay than what you might expect, and if you're lucky, you get to move your family around from market to market in pursuit of a bigger job.
Very few ever make it to the big time and make the big bucks. Again, they do it because it’s part of their fiber. Independent of this tragedy, in our industry, there have been numerous incidents involving the violent actions of disturbed individuals against innocent people. Our editorial board has noted these in prior "Speak Out" airings, tying them into issues with gun control and mental competency.
However, this one really exposed the dangerous voyeuristic culture the internet has fostered and platform it gives attention seekers as videos and tweets the gunman posted of the horrific shooting went viral moments after it happened. It reminds me of something our digital director Charles Gray used to say: that the government should shut down the internet as a matter of national security.
That's certainly not practical, and there's no turning back, but something needs to give and change to stop these senseless acts of violence. What do you think?
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