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For Alison and Adam

For Alison and Adam

Walk West (formerly Greenroom Communications) was founded by former television news journalists.  We are a community of like-minded people who have each other’s backs, no matter what.  The events in Virginia have stunned us beyond what you might imagine.  The article below was written by Penn Holderness, one of Walk West’s (formerly Greenroom) Managing Partners. See the original post here.

Alison and Adam Virginian ReportersWe didn’t know Alison and Adam, but we feel like we do.

I know, that sounds like something a politician would say, but in this case, it’s more true than you think. Kim and I worked in local news for a collective 30 years. There is a pretty unique kinship between everyone in the biz. We’ve all taken a pretty unique journey together. The journey usually starts in a tiny city you’ve never heard of, usually a thousand miles away from your family, scraping by on pennies, working about 100 hours a week. The first day your boss shows you a stack of 100 VHS tapes and says, “If you can’t cut it, here is the stack of people who want your job and will take it tomorrow.” Every News Director learned this sentence on the first day of News Director School. So, you make a deal with yourself, right then and there, to distance yourself from that stack. To do whatever it takes to keep this job, then get another one where you don’t have to live on food stamps.

Anyone looking at your life from the outside can’t understand it. They see you on TV and assume you are rich, that you drink for free and drive free cars because you are a celebrity. They don’t know you make 12,500 a year (Kim’s first job), eat Ramen at least 3 times a week and live on the floor of the women’s soccer coach’s apartment (that’s Penn – thanks again, Jim Buchan!).

We didn’t know Alison and Adam but we feel like we do.

You are working in a business where the supply-demand curve is way out of whack. The stack of tapes is always looming. Your stories need to be sensational. There’s this thing called a “demo reel” that you send out to news directors in cities where you can afford rent. They get hundreds of them and they make their decision on who to hire in the first 30 seconds of the reel. So the top of the reel is the reporter standing in the middle of as much unstable action as you can find. News Directors and Producers love it. In a hurricane, in front of a house fire, at the scene of a police standoff. Suddenly you actually want to be in unsafe places with a camera trained on you, because you know THAT is what will get you a better job, and a better life.

Adam and Alison weren’t in danger. They were at lakeside shopping center. But still, there’s no security at these places. People can walk up to you and do whatever they want. You are busy talking and the photographer is busy filming. You don’t really think about it because you do it every day, but you are incredibly vulnerable for those few minutes when the lights go on. One thought Kim and I have both had today, many times was, “that could have been us.”

We didn’t know Alison and Adam but we feel like we do.

Even though you are a pseudo-public figure, you live your life in a bubble, because the only people who GET you are the other people you work with. They work the same awful hours that you work, (don’t know when Adam and Alison wake up for the morning shift – for me it was 2:50 AM.) They’ve all seen that same stack of tapes and they’ve all made the same deal with themselves. It’s not just the people at your station, it’s the ones at the stations across town. They buy cheap beer and get drunk and go dancing together. They have Christmas parties together. They become best friends. They get married.

Kim worked for a competing station in Orlando when I met her. Her coworkers, (who everyone assumes, thanks to the Will Ferrell Anchorman turf war scenes, are bitter rivals), introduced us.

Kim’s maid of honor was a girl who worked at a competing station. They started talking because they would see each other on the same news story. They were doing their own interviews and photography but needed to shoot a “stand-up” (that’s when you see the reporter on camera talking), so they grabbed each other’s cameras and shot the other one on scene. They are best friends to this day.

I bet Adam and Alison shared that kinship, those stories, and lived in that bubble together. I bet they talked to each other like an old married couple, fights and all. I bet he farted in the live truck just to see her face scrunch up. I bet they talked about his upcoming wedding and his upcoming move to Charlotte. I bet they were planning a kickass party for him and that Alison was going to give an unbelievable toast. I bet they were going to miss each other.

We didn’t know Adam and Alison, but we feel like we do.

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