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Student Journalists Shaken by Slaying of Virginia Reporters

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For Marshall journalism students, the slaying of two Virginian journalists hits home.

WDBJ-TV photographer Adam Ward and reporter Alison Parker were fatally shot by an ex-employee of the news station Wednesday morning in Moneta, Virginia during a live broadcast.

Ward was 27 and Parker had just turned 24.

Senior broadcast journalism student Braxton Crisp was unnerved by the murder of these two young journalists.

“I saw people talking on Twitter about how journalists are kind of a giant fraternity in the sense that if you impact one, you impact all of us. It really feels that way.””

— Braxton Crisp

“I was sitting in class processing what happened and just thinking, ‘That could have been someone here, at Channel 3 or Channel 8,’” Crisp said. “I saw people talking on Twitter about how journalists are kind of a giant fraternity in the sense that if you impact one, you impact all of us. It really feels that way.”

Crisp hopes that this tragedy helps people better understand how and why journalists do what they do.

“Much like the police are trying to keep the world safe, the firefighters trying to keep your house from burning down, we’re just trying to tell you what’s going on in the world and it’s not always the safest job,” Crisp said.

Journalism professor Dr. Chris Swindell is all-too-familiar with the dangers of TV news. He said he experienced constant violence during his career as a reporter.

“I’ve been shot at, kicked at and cursed at. I experienced violence all the time when I was a TV journalist.” Swindell said. “Many of us who have been in television news have always been aware of the dangers that are inherent in the job because high profile people make easier targets.”

Swindell instructs MU Report, a bi-monthly television news broadcast produced by Marshall broadcast journalism students. In light of Wednesday’s events, Swindell said he has some reservations about training his students for this field.

“It gives people like me, who instruct young journalists, pause about sending my students into harms way, even though I know the odd are against it.”

Freshman broadcast journalism major Lucas Powell said he was shaken by the shooting, but would not be deterred for his future career.

“I couldn’t grasp what happened when I saw it. It messed with me a little bit but people do their jobs everyday and stuff like that could happen,” Powell said. “What happened, it was devastating but I’m still going to go out and do my job the best I can and let people know what’s going on.”

Rob Engle can be reached at [email protected]

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