As horrific as the killings were, by Wednesday afternoon, politicians—from Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe to Hillary Clinton—were quick to exploit the tragedies on social media for their own political agendas, specifically, greater gun control measures.
Politicians weren’t the only ones to use the tragedy to further their own aims, however.
Despite the fact that the shooter, a former news reporter, had an apparent history of poor performance reviews, a “violent temper,” and, in his own words, was “a human powder keg,” on its website, the Communications Workers of America, whose NABET affilliate represents* journalists and others in the media, stated:
“We are heartsick over the killings of WDBJ reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward. Our thoughts and prayers are with their grieving colleagues, friends and families,” 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.”
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. Our members in the media sector and all of the Communications Workers of America are gravely concerned about this issue and committed to helping build safe workplaces.
While the CWA did not specify how Wednesday’s horrific events could have been prevented, the timing of its press release and seemingly political use of the Virginia tragedy to call for building ‘safe workplaces’ demonstrates the same lack of empathy as some politicians.