Today in History: August 26

Vulnerable. Reporters are vulnerable. The camera lens and a notepad do not stop bullets. One year ago today a local television news reporter and a cameraman for WDBJ7, a CBS affiliate in Virginia, were shot and killed live on the air.

The reporter was named Alison Parker; she was 24 years old and had recently gotten engaged to be married to another young WDBJ reporter. The cameraman, Adam Ward, was 27. He was engaged to be married as well and today was to be his last day at WDBJ; his fiancee was in the production studio doing her job when she watched her boyfriend get shot.

The shooter ran away and then was shot and killed by authorities himself later the same day.

The shooter knew where the reporter and cameraman could be found in the same way that any attentive viewer of the local news station might know the whereabouts of this reporter or that news team: It is reported. You’ve heard something like this: “So-and-so will be reporting live from the scene of whatever at 6:50.” In most small towns, the local television news team is as familiar on viewers’ screens as Jimmy Fallon and as familiar in the neighborhood as your neighbors because they are your neighbors.

* * * *
A television station, W2XBS in New York City (the precursor to what is now WNBC), broadcast a double-header between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds on this date in 1939. It was the first television broadcast of a Major League Baseball game.

At the time, there were only 400 or so television sets in the market, but most of them were tuned in to the games. Many of the sets were at the New York World’s Fair, where television was a novelty. Red Barber, the radio voice of the Dodgers, served as the television announcer. There were two cameras, both stationary: one near the visitor’s dugout on the third-base side and one behind home plate in the stands. The quality of the picture was not a top priority as the screens on the sets in the market measured nine inches by six inches.

* * * *
Jennifer Levin, an 18-year-old, was killed 30 years ago today in New York City’s Central Park. Charged with murder, her attacker became media-famous for being handsome and he received a catchy media nickname. He eventually pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Her killer exhibited not one ounce of compassion or remorse. He served his entire 15-year sentence because he tended to get in trouble even while in prison, was released in 2003, and was arrested for selling drugs in 2004 and again in 2007. Since 2008, he has been in prison.

* * * *
Ted Knight died 30 years ago today. One moment out of many from his work:

Laura Branigan died on this date in 2004.

* * * *
Christopher Isherwood was born on this date in 1904. Ben Bradlee was born on this date in 1921.

* * * *
Branford Marsalis is 56. Shirley Manson is 50 today. Melissa McCarthy is 46. Macaulay Culkin is 36.

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One comment

  1. loisajay · August 26, 2016

    Ted Baxter….one of the all-time great TV reporters. Thanks for this much needed laugh, Mark. Happy Friday.

    Liked by 1 person

Please comment here. Thank you, Mark.

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