This week I saw the face of a woman just moments before she died.

It was an image nobody needed to see.

Yesterday I saw the face of a young woman moments before she died.

At first she had a look of confusion on her face. She was unsure. Perplexed. What was going on? But then a change. A change in her eyes.

The horror in her eyes.

I didn’t want to see it.

Alison Parker pictured with Adam

I turned from it and clicked away. I tried to erase its imprint on my brain by swiveling in my chair to gaze at photos of my children. But it stayed burned into my thoughts.

The face of a women before she died. It’s still there. When I close my eyes I can still see it.

Did you see it too? Unintentionally? Like me.

I first saw it as the rest of my household slept, in the very early hours of the morning, just an hour after she died. I was up writing the news for Mamamia and breaking was the horrific story of a TV reporter and Camera operator in Virginia in the US gunned down live to air.

As I worked I couldn’t escape the images. Her face. The gun. The terrible moment the realisation dawns.

As I scrolled through Facebook there she was again.

A beautiful 24-year old woman moments from the end of her life, now a viral video. It’s repulsive in its intrusiveness.

The news we woke to this morning was shocking in the telling.

Alison Parker, a young, hard-working reporter,  her fun-loving camera operator, 27-year old Adam Ward, dedicated professionals.

The facts were hard enough to grasp. How could a former colleague do this? What could possibly motivate such a horrendous act? It was unfathomable.

But then the images compounded the horror.

The gunman, Vester Lee Flanagan had filmed the murders and as he ran, cowardly fleeing from his dreadful crime, he uploaded them to social media, manically justifying his actions.

To its credit, social media giant Twitter removed the video as soon as the source was determined. They also suspended his account.

Facebook too removed the video. But it hasn’t stopped it being shown and shared.

It hasn’t stopped major news organisations right across Australia and throughout the world taking screen shots of the moment before Alison Parker turned and ran and splashing them across their front pages and using them as stills in the news bulletins.

It hasn’t stopped some of the greatest and most powerful media outlets in the world showing the footage on repeat– albeit with a warning “Viewer discretion advised.”


As though they think that is good enough.

Viewer discretion? What about the moral discretion of those making these editorial decisions? What about some discretion for the family and loved ones of Alison Parker and Adam Ward?

What about some discretion in honouring the memory of two young professionals on the cusp of life. A young woman who had just moved in with the love of her life and a man about to be married.

Where is the discretion for them?

Today I go on with my life knowing I have seen the face of a woman I had never met just moments before she died.

It was raw, terrifying and so invasive I feel ashamed.

Editorial decisions like this in news rooms are traditionally justified through public interest. News editors examine the parameters of whether showing gruesome images of death serve a purpose. Do they add value to the story? Dos the public have a right to see it?

Famous photographs like the Falling Man, who leapt to his death from towers of September 11 come to mind. The New York Times ran that photo on page 7 the day after the attack, much to the horror of many who branded it “disturbing”, “exploitative” and “voyeuristic”.

But still hours and hours of thought were put into the decision to run it. It was justified through the explanation that it showed bravery, and reflected the terror of the day. Interestingly, it was printed and then removed from the public sphere for years, not to be seen again for nearly a decade.

With media now there is no such thought. Social media has changed that. And there is no hiding away an image.

There are justifications: the video is out there anyway. Its in the public domain. Why shy away from the truth?

Well I will tell you why.

For human fucking decency.

Alison Parker was a journalist who no doubt believed that her job served a purpose to inform.

But showing the moments before was killed does not inform. Screen shotting, enhancing and freeze framing the moment the knowledge dawned upon her that she was about to die is not in the public interest.

It is sadistic and wrong. It is intrusive and it’s sad, awfully, awfully sad.

Today I saw the face of a women as death approached her. And I hate that I have.

Did you watch the video? Do you believe news outlets should have shown it?

For more.

What cameraman Adam Ward did in his final seconds may have saved many lives.

Partner of murdered TV reporter: “I am numb.”