Early this morning, while broadcasting live on WDBJ7, reporter Alison Parker, 24, and photographer Adam Ward, 27, were murdered. They were shot at close range by a former WDBJ7 employee.
There's not only footage of the live broadcast, but the shooter himself took footage and shared it on the web. I've shared a link to the first video via Twitter, but have decided not to share the second video. Some feel neither video should be shared or viewed. Others feel both videos are part of this news story and fair game for public consumption. This is merely one complexity amidst many with a tragedy of this nature in this day and age.
When the name of the shooter was revealed, some felt his name shouldn't be written or spoken. He wanted fame, but all attention should be given to the victims. After all, he might get off on the infamy. I respect this argument, but still decided to share his name and picture on Twitter.
Then, there's the hot button issue of gun control. Shootings of this nature happen often in the United States, they just don't typically happen on live television. Gun control is a very serious issue, but is it one that overshadows the even more serious mental health crisis? In my humble opinion, yes. I Tweeted a screen capture of the shooter's Twitter feed, and it's clearly a mentally ill individual. Gun control is important, but mental health is often the root of violent crimes of this nature, and the mental health crisis seems grossly overlooked.
Then there's the 23-page manifesto faxed by the gunman to ABC News. Should that be shared? Should it be suppressed? Is it a legitimate part of this developing news story or a soapbox this double murderer should be deprived of?
And what about race? Was the story covered differently when the suspect was assumed to be white? What of the fact the shooter's manifesto named the recent Charleston church shooting as motivation for his actions?
Mental health, race relations, gun control... all accelerated by the immediacy of social media. It's all so very sad, and so very complex. And in 2015, everything happens lightning quick in the public sphere.