Even in Tragedy We Can Find Peace – Thoughts From a Former Media Girl

I say that as if I am a trained journalist. I’m still working in media of a different kind, but no I wasn’t a reporter. I just didn’t quite know how to explain exactly what I did in two words, but I will now.

One of my most favorite jobs throughout my career was when this former English teacher was blessed to be hired in our local NBC affiliate’s community outreach department. Well, we called it that internally because that’s what we pretty much did – we reached out to the community. Really, our department was “marketing”, but I still fondly think of it as community outreach. That’s neither here nor there and I’m just rambling. The point – I, with no background or experience in journalism, was suddenly thrust into the work of a TV station. How cool was that!

NBC 17 CCL Lisa Sullivan

The original NBC 17 Community Content Liaisons (CCLs).

My role as a Community Content Liaison for WNCN NBC 17 was to engage with the movers and shakers in the geo-territory I was assigned, teach them the ropes of our pilot project at the time – MyNC.com – where they could post their own news, information, and stories…including video. I was constantly out in the community meeting and presenting on the how-tos of MyNC while at the same time when the occasion warranted, I’d also provide my own stories and video too. Sometimes my stories “made the air”. Again, one of the best jobs I ever had in and of itself, but what made it more special were the people I got to work with – the NBC 17 news and sales teams.

And that’s why today’s news about the tragic, senseless killings of two seemingly bright and talented journalists hurt my heart and hit me hard. Though I was not privy to being “on the news team” at WNCN, I worked closely with many of our reporters who were constantly on the beat, sometimes one man (or woman) “bands” doing their thing to get the news for the community. I worked with photographers and engineering personnel who helped set up shots and station-sponsored events. Whether or not you were a reporter in the field or on air you still felt part of the family every single day.

My heart bleeds for the families of Allison Parker and Adam Ward as well as their professional family at WDBJ. For the better part of today, I will admit it was very hard for me to focus on my work (though when I finally did, I was a machine!). Here’s what I take away from the tragedy –

  • I saw compassion and love shared from around the nation through Tweets and Facebook posts. Whether “in the news business” or just your everyday American, I saw a lot of prayers being lifted, good thoughts gone the way of the victims and their families, even remarks about “staying safe” when my former colleagues remain out in the field doing what they do everyday. LOTS of love and compassion.
  • I saw the absolute professionalism of the anchors and staff at WDBJ even as the story unfolded knowing that two of their own had been slain.
  • Annnnnd….I also saw ignorance, just some really dumb commentary from your average everyday individual. Really NOT surprising, but dagum. I still found myself SMH (Shaking My Head).

But, I don’t want to focus on the last bullet point. There’s not much you can do with that. As the old saying goes, “You can’t fix stupid.” Rather, let’s focus on the compassion and love. The dedication of such a tight-knit group of individuals as anchors/reporters and photographers and their desire to lift up each other with thoughts of “stay safe” and “thanks for all you do” speaks volumes and to me, it’s what sets this industry apart from any other.

Let’s face it, reporters and traditional media in general, tend to get a bad rap. In the words of another old saying, “What bleeds, leads,” really does ring true for the most part. News orgs have only X minutes to fill in a newscast. Trying to find that balance of good versus bad stories while keeping the public, leadership, and if we’re being real, advertisers, happy is really tough. As much as I’d like to tell you that I’d prefer to watch positive news for the entire newscast, it’s just not reality, but that’s a whole other blog post. The point I’m making here is that media tends to get that bad rap but when you put them in the face of something this tragic, you realize they are just as human as the rest of us. They have feelings and they have a “family” just like we in whatever we do every day have. So, their compassion, respect, and love for each other is what will make them stronger as this story fades away.

Even in tragedy, we can find peace.

Something Allison Parker’s dad said in the released statement has stuck out at me –

“She loved us dearly, and we talked to her every single day. Not hearing her voice again crushes my soul.”

I suddenly feel the need to call my parents and I most certainly feel the need to call them MUCH more often than I currently do.

I have no idea if this made any sense at all. I just know that the best way for me to process what I feel is to write it out. Today, my heart feels hurt. Very hurt. This is my processing. If you’ve got this far, thanks for reading.

One final thought – let’s all work together to make this world a safer AND happier place by showing kindness, being compassionate, helping others, and here’s a concept – loving each other. As I’ve said in previous posts, if we all just loved each other, our world would be a better place. Stop pointing fingers. Stop blaming this one or that one, this group or that group. Take responsibility for your actions. Own up to them. But, at the end of the day, just love one another. That’s all we’re supposed to do anyway.

I believe that’s how Ms. Parker and Mr. Ward would want to be remembered and honored – with love. Let’s do that, shall we?

As I do with all my posts, I welcome comments BUT if you can’t be objective, your comment will not be published. It’s really that simple. I do hope my former colleagues will weigh in though. Love and miss you all, CCLs and NBC 17-ers!



2 Responses to “Even in Tragedy We Can Find Peace – Thoughts From a Former Media Girl”
  1. Courtney says:

    Miss you, Lis! Our time at NBC17 is a great memory and I am so thankful for the friendships! Thinking of you all today. Thank you for putting this into words 🙂

    • Miss you too, Court! And you’re welcome. Still kind of processing even a day later. Feeling so somber again today but looking for the hope that God paints daily too. He is good! VERY thankful to have had an opportunity to work with you AND for our friendship as a result. ❤ you!

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