New York — Jeffrey Marks, president and general manager of WDBJ Roanoke, Va., appeared in front of his station colleagues Thursday at the TVB Forward conference to share some thoughts about what he called “the worst day of my career.”
That day was Aug. 26, when WDBJ reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were shot and killed by a former employee during a live broadcast.
“Sometimes as journalists we get derided for sticking microphones in people’s faces,” Marks said at the Waldorf Astoria at the sixth annual conference. “How people cope with disaster is a big part of the story.”
Marks, who is also speaking at the New York Press Club Thursday evening, told his staff after the tragedy that they should all feel free to talk about it on newscasts and to other media outlets.
“Anybody who wants to talk can talk,” he told them. “You don’t have to clear it with everybody.”
Nearly a month later, Marks said the issue to start with is mental health. He said that, if we as a country and society can clean up cities and rivers and cure diseases, “we can work on violence and we can work on mental illness that fuels it. We have no choice.”