New York (CNN) Spectrum News 13 will never be the same.
Orlando television on Wednesday became the latest local news organization to face the incredibly difficult task of covering a deadly attack on its own colleagues.
In 2015 it was WDBJ-TV. In 2018 it was the capital city gazette. And now, in February 2023, it’s Spectrum News 13, a Charter Communications cable news agency in Florida.
On Wednesday afternoon, the station deployed a crew to report on the scene of a shooting that occurred earlier in the day when bullets suddenly began flying again. A 9-year-old girl was killed. Bullets hit two journalists from the news organization, fatally injuring one and seriously injuring another.
Spectrum News 13 initially said it was withholding the names of the two journalists who were shot. But its presenters and reporters rallied throughout the evening to provide raw, moving, and at times heartbreaking, coverage of the horrifying act of violence against their peers.
“This is extremely devastating for all of us,” Spectrum News 13 reporter Celeste Springer said on the air. “Please, please say a prayer tonight for our colleague who is in critical condition.”
In a statement, Charter Communications said it was “deeply saddened by the loss of our colleague and the other lives taken senselessly today.”
“Our thoughts are with our employee’s family, friends and colleagues at this very difficult time,” Charter said. “We remain hopeful that our other injured colleague makes a full recovery. This is a terrible tragedy for the Orlando community.”
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Working on local TV news is unpredictable. One day a reporter might cover extreme weather events like a hurricane. The next day they could be assigned to cover a political rally where they are denounced as “fake news”. And another day, they could be deployed to a crime scene, as was the case for Spectrum News 13 journalists on Wednesday.
This means that the job involves a degree of risk, a fact not lost on those who do it. As WESH-TV reporter Luana Munoz said while covering the story of the scene Wednesday night, “This is every reporter’s absolute worst nightmare.”
And yet dozens of reporters do it happily every day, not for fame or fortune—the pay is far too low and the industry’s economy far too unstable—but because they believe in the mission: to inform their neighbors. Improving their communities by providing important information to the public.
The senseless violence on Wednesday is all the more tragic. The Spectrum News 13 journalists were attacked while carrying out a job aimed at serving the public.
The violence comes after a particularly dangerous year for journalists worldwide, which saw a staggering 67 journalists and other media workers killed in 2022, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. That number is more than double what it was in 2021, when 28 journalists were killed.
“I’m at a loss for words,” Rebecca Turco, one of Spectrum News 13’s journalists, tweeted Wednesday night. “We still have so many questions tonight, but even if we get answers, they don’t make any sense.”
“Praying for our other team member will be fine,” Turco added. “Please think of the families of our crew.”