IFJ condemns 'shock horror' killing of US journalist and cameraman during TV live interview in Virginia

The International Federation of Journalists condemned today’s shooting attack in the US State of Virginia in which journalist Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward, both working for CBS affiliate WDBJ7 TV station, were killed by a gunman during a live interview from a shopping center.

“This is a shock horror murder of two media staff which will appall the world journalists’ community,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. “We look to the US authorities to leave no stone unturned in the hunt for the killer. Our hearts go out to the victims’ families, colleagues and to the US media community as a whole.”

The NewsGuild-CWA, IFJ's US affiliate, also repudiated this "senseless tragedy."

“We are heartsick over the killings of WDBJ reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward,” said CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens. “We also pray for the recovery of Vicki Garner, the woman the journalists were interviewing, who was badly wounded.”

According to reports, WDBJ7's reporter Alison Parker (24) and cameraman Adam Ward (27) were reporting live at 6,45am from the Bridgewater Plaza, a lakeside shopping and recreational sports centre near Smith Mountain Lake in Moneta, Bedford County (Virginia), when they were targeted by a gunman. Ms. Parker was interviewing a guest when suddenly eight shots rang out, the camera spins and drops to the ground and screams can be heard as the broadcast cuts back to the studio, US media said. The station said the interviewee survived the attack but she was also shot and taken for emergency surgery. 

While falling to the floor, the camera captured a fleeting image of the suspect holding a handgun. Thanks to that, the police could identified the shooter as Vester Lee Flanagan, a "disgruntled" former employee from the TV station, the Governor of Virginia Terry McAuliffe told media. 

Flanagan, who used the on-air name of Bryce Williams, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound while fleeing from the police.

The NewsGuild-CWA added in its statement that the threats journalists face on the job every day do not normally include their coworkers. But tragically, work-related shootings and other violence are not uncommon in the United States.

“This terrible incident serves a sad reminder that violence against journalists is spiraling out of control all around the world,” added IFJ General Secretary Beth Costa. "While the risk zero will never exist in journalism, such attacks make a compelling case for some ground security measures for media professionals doing live reporting from the field,” she said.

70 journalists and media staff have been killed so far in 2015, according to IFJ statistics.

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