[August 25] marked six years since WDBJ reporter Alison Parker and photojournalist Adam Ward were murdered while working on a story in Moneta, Virginia. The story is one that readers of The Roanoke Times know well. Parker and Ward were on an assignment leading up to the 50th anniversary of Smith Mountain Lake when a former reporter for the station shot them during a live broadcast.
It was a crime that shocked not only Virginia but the nation.
The lives of Parker and Ward continue to influence many today. Parker’s father wrote a book and her mother started an arts foundation in her name. Together, they are active in efforts to curb gun violence. Her boyfriend, Chris Hurst, now represents the 12th District in the Virginia House of Delegates. The Ward family has established scholarships in his name. Their deaths also represented something more, and that is the long record of sacrifice by journalists in this country and around the world to practice and protect a free press.
Now an effort to memorialize Ward, Parker and others like them is moving ahead in Washington, D.C. The concept of a Fallen Journalists Memorial has been approved by Congress, honoring the work by journalists across the nation and around the world as they face new threats. Fundraising has begun and design is expected to begin next year.