It's easy, in the wake of the senseless and horrific shootings of WDBJ7 reporter Alison Parker and videographer Adam Ward yesterday, to use images from the gunman's video to tell the story of what happened. That is what some U.S. and international newspapers did, much to the horror and dismay of some of its readers.It's estimated that some 40,000 Virginia viewers witnessed the viewing live, in addition to those who were watching it from the WDBJ7 set and control room. Ward's fiancee, Melissa Ott, who was celebrating her last day with the Virginia news station before moving to new challenges, watched her beloved get gunned down from the control room. Staffers at the Virginia news station were resoundingly commended for somehow continuing their restrained, fluid coverage of the news in spite of their grief.
There were many news agencies, including the New York Daily News, who chose to run images of the selfie video the Virginia gunman took as their front page image. The editorial decision was met with resounding disgust, with some readers saying they felt such a decision allowed the gunman to tell the story of what happened from his perspective.
WSFA reported that Jeffrey Marks, president and general manager of WDBJ7, noted that there were no plans for the station to run the video. He also noted his staffers were still relying on their professionalism to get through the aftermath of the tragedy.
"We are choosing not to run the video of that (the shooting) right now because, frankly, we don't need to see it again. And our staff doesn't need to see it again," he said. "But we will do full reporting on it later. Our teams are working on it right now, through the tears."
The gunman's apparent manifesto cited the shootings in Charleston as motivation for the on-air killings. While WDBJ7 and other news agencies continue to provide coverage of the killings, there are few who have opted to run the so-called "selfie video," either in its entirety or as a series of stills.
According to Chris Hurst, Parker's boyfriend and fellow WDBJ7 Virginia reporter, the reality of the tragedy "is not hitting" yet. He wants to ensure that Parker and Ward continue to be remembered for the lives they lived and not the manner in which they died.
For their part, those in the WDBJ7 Virginia newsroom are not interested in pursuing images of Parker and Ward's last moments. Other news agencies also have stood with the Virginia news team. The hashtag #WeStandWithWDBJ began trending after KVUE journalist Vicki Chen challenged other journalists to stand up and support WDBJ7 Virginia.[Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images]