WDBJ: To Love and Courage
By Yessenia Anderson
As a journalist you’re tasked with finding the right words to outline an issue, to explain a new ordinance. It is YOUR job to find the words to convey your story to the general public. But today, in this occasion, I don’t know what those words are or that they even exist, but what I do know is that today I want to honor the courage of the many and not the cowardice of one.
My career began in Bend, Oregon during a snowy December and ended in the heat of Medford, Oregon’s blaze. I, like many others in broadcast news, had left my family behind in California and uprooted my fiancé. At a time like this it is important to note that a newsroom for those who work in one is typically much more than a workplace – it is your refuge, your home and your sense of being.
The job is too much of a sacrifice for you not to be truly in love with the art. Most journalists throw themselves into their work. The nights can be long, the mornings early and the days might go on forever but there is a passion burning within that doesn’t quite let you wrap things up at 5:00 p.m. sharp. The people around you are typically transplants, all chasing their dream. So you bond over the way you stumble through a story after running to your live shot or in harder circumstances, the heartbreak felt by a local boy’s death. Through it all – you are a family.
Wednesday when I heard the news of the On Air Shooting of journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward my heart dropped and my mind flashed back to the days of KDRV. As I watched their team mates so bravely continue on air I reflected on my time spent in Southern Oregon. Had that happened to my team mates could I have been so brave? Could I have mustered up the strength to honor their lives by sharing beautiful memories and not letting their lights dim so suddenly?
In the past two days I learned that Alison was a very intelligent young woman who received college credit while still in high school, who built her boyfriend an album for their ‘monthaversaries’ and who was working on a big series on hospice care. I heard about Adam’s football playing days and his deep base baritone voice which had a contrasting kindness behind it. I smiled as I heard of his antics in the weather center leaving candy wrappers behind for the camera to catch or for others to find. WDBJ team members; I know all of this because of YOU and YOUR strength. I know this because your professionalism and love for your team mates prevailed over any intended plans of crippling your spirit. Today I am in awe of you and your continued strength. This job is not easy. I ran towards fires as others tried to escape, in the late evening hours, I hunted for interviews with a killer on the loose and knocked on the doors of those who least wanted me there. But what you faced, is unprecedented.
Thank you for being an example of strength. Thank you for finding the words. For sharing their stories. For making your extended news family proud. Thank you for stepping back into that newsroom and broadcasting…. love and courage.