Thursday, August 27, 2015

Thursday Thirteen #410

I'm going to be honest - I'm having a tough time with Thursday Thirteen today. Yesterday my community was violated when two young journalists were gunned down on live TV. I have been in the news business for 30 years, so while I'm not a TV reporter, I have been part of the media. I always considered these folks colleagues. I had met the young cameraman and spoken with him at a local meeting some time ago. He was personable and I remember he stepped out of my way so I could take a photo (cameramen often don't do that). I remember thinking then that he was a nice guy.

I could do thirteen reasons why we should have tighter gun regulations. I will only say if you think the background checks we have in place are sufficient, you're an idiot. I have bought guns and the background checks, at least here in Virginia, are a joke. I'm not saying don't buy your gun. I'm just saying that there needs to be better checks on the people who buy and own guns. You have to have a license to drive a car. You should at least have to pass some kind of test to own a gun. And I really don't care what you think the Second Amendment says. This isn't 1776 and we don't use muskets now.

Or I could do something completely different - 13 butterfly types, perhaps. But my heart really isn't in it this morning. I tried yesterday to write a blog post about how I was feeling and gave up after a couple of sentences.

I had no words.

Ironically, last week for Thursday Thirteen I listed various stages of depression and how you could help a friend. The information is out there - are we paying attention?

I still don't know what to say. So I think today I will list all of the emotions that I and many other folks felt yesterday, though maybe the feelings were not in this order.

1. Confusion. When the incident happened, live on the air, it was hard to believe what you were seeing. Was it real? Were those really gunshots?

2. Shock. As it became clear to all that something awful had happened, shock crept in. How could this happen? How could this happen here? Who could do this?

3. Fear. There was, in the parlance of the day, a "live shooter" loose in the area. Who was safe now? Were the children at the schools alright? Would he go back to the newsroom to finish the job? Who else would this person kill?

4. Concern. We watched these folks on TV every day. Media people become a part of your day and your routine. You see their faces over and over, you hear emotions in their voices. You may not have personally met them but you think you know them. You're comfortable with them. Now you're worried about them, and their colleagues.

5. Heightened Awareness. Social media and the internet gives such things an immediacy that has never been experienced by humanity prior to the last 20 years. Suddenly we are interacting with the folks in the newsroom who are trying to understand what happened. It's like watching a car wreck. Everyone slows down to gawk. We can't help it, even though we know we should move along.

6. Denial. You can't believe this happened. Not here. Not in our little community. Not at the place where folks go to fish and eat and have a nice outing. Not during a story about tourism, for heaven's sake. They weren't covering a riot. They were in Moneta at the lake.

7. Anger. How dare he! How dare this man invade our lives and our community. How dare he take the lives of two young people, people who had done nothing wrong. People who were just out doing their jobs.

8. Hope. The hope comes with the chase. The police has to catch this guy. This is where hope happens in such a situation. We want this man captured and justice wrought.

9. Despair. We learn that the young people have died. We despair. We rage at the sins of the world, the evil, the things we cannot control.

10.  Bargaining. Please God, bring this man to justice. Please God, give comfort to the family and friends of the ones who were killed. Please God, step in and make this better. Heal us and make us whole.

11. Sadness. Two young lives taken. People crying on TV. How can we not cry with them?

12. Violation. We also all felt violated. This man took something from us, the viewers, the other media, and the community. Even though I know from my work and from my husband's work as a first responder how much violation actually goes on here, day in and day out, this felt much more personal. We could not remove ourselves from this because we were watching it play out live on TV, and then it played out even more on social media.

13. Acceptance. At some point, we will move on. Roanoke will move forward. WDBJ will regroup and hire new people and the news will continue. Unfortunately, I think in today's world we are forced to reach this emotion much too soon - to accept the loss and get on with job of worshipping the dollar bills as quickly as possible. We are all walking around wounded, each and every one of us, simply from living our lives, and we do not allow ourselves the time it takes to heal.

Emotions are tough and tricky things. Sometimes we go through them in rapid succession - they move so quickly through us that we don't even realize that in the space of five minutes we've felt 13 different things. We're not very good at analyzing ourselves, I think. We're not taught to, we're taught to shrug it off and stride on through. Sometimes though, you need to reflect. And then perhaps you need to act.

Thursday Thirteen is played by lots of people; there is a list here if you want to read other Thursday Thirteens and/or play along. I've been playing for a while and this is my 410th time to do a list of 13 on a Thursday.


  1. there is no one answer but mental instability has to be checked somewhere . We have check points for pedaphiles - child abuse- animal abuse ??- etc couldn't we invest some money in seeing that these people stay healthy there is no real answer terrible heartbreak here

  2. I had my 13 already written when this happened, so close to me too. I couldn't interject it where it had no place and so was rendered speechless as a blogger. I really think we need to stop thinking of gun control as political and more as a public safety issue.

  3. I was shocked when I saw this on yesterday's news, especially when I saw that it happened on air. No matter where you live, it hits close to home. I'm agreeing with you about the need for better background checks (our idiot Gov recently relaxed background checks!) and with Colleen about the issue needing to be more about public safety than politics.

  4. I heard about a sentence or two about it on the radio today. I don't generally watch TV at all, but Wasn't the guy who did it a former employee?

  5. I think a few employment laws should be changed as well. Employers should be able to share 'pertinent' information regarding a past employee to future employers who ask for information without the threat of having a law suit from the person they fired, if they think it is for the safety of others. The shooter had had NUMEROUS previous jobs in the news industry that he had been fired from due to his personality. I don't think that WDBJ would ever have hired him had they had more employment history on him shared with them.


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