Safety in the Visual Age

How do we stay safe in the visual age? Today it was reported that Arkansas anchor Anne Pressly from KATV (an ABC affiliate) died from injuries she sustained last week. She was discovered beaten in her home shortly before she was supposed to appear on “Daybreak” the station’s morning news program. At this time the authorities feel that this is a random attack, but are cautioning women to protect themselves. You can find more information on

Although at this time there is no evidence that this was a case of stalking it brings to my mind the case of Rebecca Schaeffer who was a successful television actress on the sitcom “My Sister Sam.” She was stalked and killed by Robert Bardo in 1989. I can’t help but wonder how dangerous it would be to constantly be in the media spotlight not because you are a celebrity, but because you are the reporter. How is a person supposed to protect themselves when their image has to be out there to become successful.

I am acquainted with a former local television personality and she has made the comment on more the one occasion how difficult it can be to be at the grocery store and people come up to you and want to chat because they know you from T.V. When you have to put forth this inviting, friendly personality for the camera it would be hard to dismiss those who expect you to be that way all the time.

On top of the stress of everyone wanting to be your friend, in most cases people (even psychos) can find out so much about you simply by knowing your name and having access to the Internet. All it takes is for one person to become obsessed and you could find yourself in quite a pickle.

As we become a more visually driven society there will be more and more anchors that are put in the spotlight that could risk their lives simply to bring us the daily weather report. Hopefully this is a concept that these individuals are aware of when they sign up for the position. Next thing you know news reporting will replace crab fishing as the most dangerous job.


6 Responses to Safety in the Visual Age

  1. hljones76 says:

    I agree, this is very disturbing. I don’t know that viewers or the eager young journalist really sees the “dangers” of the medium. Not only can reporters be injured on the job (Daniel Pearl) but they can be injured because of their job, as with an obsessed fan. An very scary concept.

  2. pamelakoneal says:

    I agree too. But this is something to consider: As more and more people are becoming citizen journalists, will society’s fascination with those reporters on the television begin to diminish? I don’t know but I think it’s something to think about.

  3. ammolinari says:

    Journalists expect to be in the public’s eye and that brings both positive and negative consequences. They should be prepared for uncomfortable situations, even dangerous ones. While this is unfortunate, being in the media is really no different than being a politician or celebrity–it’s just on a smaller scale. Politicians and celebrities run into security issues often. Journalists should anticipate this, too, and try to take the necessary precautions.

  4. unstableal says:

    All professions/jobs carry risk – obviously there are many different levels of risk and many different types of risk. Just driving across town to your job offers traffic risk. If one has to travel far for their job, they get to worry about airplane risks and/or the risks of being in a non-familiar environment (ask me about traveling throughout the middle-east during and after 9-11).

    People tend to gravitate to their personally accepted level of risk. A few people won’t ride in a car, while others love being stunt pilots or lumberjacks. People tend to inherently be able to determine the risk they are willing to accept. Occasionally, they have to become educated to the risks they could be facing, then they will determine the risk level is not satisfactory to them (for example, a person might enjoy working in a convenience store until a robbery occurs – then they realize the job isn’t worth the risk).
    The on-air personalities and politicians I have had the opportunity to meet all seemed to be persons who were comfortable being in the spotlight as long as they had control of the environment. At the same time, many of them also bemoaned not being able to be ‘anonymous’ in public. I feel they enjoyed the notoriety however didn’t like the inconvenient baggage that comes with it.

    What about the future? With the splintering of media outlets there will theoretically be many more media spokespersons in the future with most of them being ‘lower tier’ celebs. Will this dilute the possibility of danger due to the additional numbers of potential targets? Or – because many of the future outlets will be ‘opinionated’, will the spokesperson more likely inflame those who are capable of committing acts against them?

    I believe we are continuing to move into an every more violent society. Many people are outraged at society in general and feel they should make a statement (such as the skinheads arrested for plotting to kill Obama). In order to make a statement, the aggrieved person knows they must attack a high profile target. The arts celeb, the politician or the popular ‘talking head’ all make excellent targets that are guaranteed to generate a lot of media (witness John Wilkes Booth, Mark Chapman, Lee Harvey Oswald

    Danger will always be inherent for anyone in the public eye. My advice is to follow your calling, however after taking all reasonable safety measures, learn to accept the risk and enjoy your position. Without risk, there is no reward.

  5. jecamig says:

    My opinion follows Andrea’s and Al’s. I don’t think that this incident means that journalists are any different than many other professionals when it comes to violent outbursts or incidents. Any time you become a public personality you might be exposed to the outrage of the society, groups or individuals. Far from justifying what have happened to this anchor – that is horrible. However, I think that journalist are mostly aware of these terrible possibilities but that they believe that the way their job benefits others worths more than the possible danger of doing it.

  6. Lou Heldman says:

    Good post, Lisa. I used to see one of the local anchors at Genesis all the time and I thought how rough that must be for her to be sweating in workout gear when she knew others were watching.
    I also like the new header and format of your blog.

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