Students react to incident of live television murder

By Loribeth Reynolds

It’s been two weeks since a news reporter and a cameraman died, and one person was injured, as they were gunned down during a live TV report in Roanoke, Va.

Alison Parker, a reporter for the WDBJ news station, was interviewing a chamber of commerce official, Vicki Gardner, about local tourism when gunfire erupted.

Cameraman Adam Ward and Parker were fatally wounded; Gardner survived being shot in the back.

The gunman, Vester Lee Flanagan II, was a former reporter for the TV station. He had been fired from the station in 2013 for strange and disruptive conduct.

There were two videos of the murders, the first being the live broadcast, and the second was filmed by the gunman himself, using a hand-held camera, as he crept up to the interview location, unnoticed.

He later uploaded the horrifying video to his social media accounts. Flanagan tweeted after uploading the video: “I filmed the shootings. See facebook.”

Many news stations showed both videos several times to viewers.

CNN showed the station’s videotape only once every hour, during the initial day of coverage.

HCC student Daniel Strine, Denver, questioned whether this was an ethical move.

“I don’t think the repeated play was the right thing to do,” Strine said. “I mean, wasn’t it already on live TV?”

Kayla Penner, a student from Hutchinson, agreed. She feels society is becoming desensitized to violence through entertainment.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate to play that video repeatedly because the news channels need to have respect for the victims and their families,” Penner said. “I think violence is getting worse, and I think video games can possibly have an impact.”

The footage of the murders was also available to view on social media sites, but HCC student Bobby Moretti, West Tatum, Connecticut, said viewing them was a “no-go” for him.

“I didn’t necessarily look for the video,” Moretti said. “It’s just not something that’s appropriate to see.”

Alison Parker’s father said he will now devoted his time as an advocate for gun control in honor of his daughter. He plans to make a trip to Washington soon, to talk with lawmakers.

Students at HCC are divided on the issue of gun control.

“I’m not in favor of more gun control because guns don’t hurt people,” Strine said.

“I feel like this guy was sick-minded, so I am in favor of a more thorough background check.”

Penner is a firm believer in tougher gun laws. She feels tougher laws would prevent tragedies.

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