When I was a few months into my first reporting job at the Queens Courier, Daniel Pearl was killed by Taliban soldiers in Afghanistan. The Editor in Chief of the newspaper at the time was especially somber that day and served us all red wine in paper cups to toast ‘Danny’ at the end of the day. At the time I thought it was overly fatuous, but I was young and dumb. That editor has passed away himself since then, and I finally see at what he was getting. Even then, the journalism industry was small, and it still is, in relative terms.
When two local news reporters were killed today in the course of doing their jobs, I felt something like my editor must have felt back then. There but for… and whatnot. Not everyone in journalism ends up at The Wall Street Journal, like Pearl, but it’s a capricious and hardly egalitarian system into which we enter. With few exceptions, anyone could be anyone else. Maybe not everyone could have been Daniel Pearl, but anyone could have been a local TV camera operator or news reporter in Roanoke, Virginia, and that’s exactly why it hurts, and why today’s sadness hits so much closer to home.