Rolling Out

Florida news reporter killed: A look at the public’s distrust of the media

How fellow Orlando journalist is handling the tragedy
Florida news reporter killed: A look at the public's distrust of the media
Photo credit: Shutterstock.com / Leonard Zhukovsky

America is mourning another tragic loss due to gun violence. On Feb. 23, a gunman allegedly killed a woman and returned to the scene and killed a TV reporter covering that death. The gunman also allegedly shot and killed a 9-year-old girl before being arrested, CNN reports.

The suspect, 19-year-old Keith Melvin Moses, is currently in custody.


Spectrum News 13 in Orlando identified 24-year-old Dylan Lyons as the slain reporter.

In August 2015, a Virginia television reporter, Alison Parker, and her cameraman, Adam Ward, were shot and killed during a live report on air. Parker was also 24.


In June 2018, a man shot and killed five people at the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland, which is approximately 32 miles south of Baltimore.

In September 2022, Las Vegas investigative reporter Jeff German was killed. Robert Telles, a former public administrator who German was critical of in his stories, has been indicted in the case.

Journalists being killed is unfortunately a common occurrence overseas, more specifically in war zones, but it’s a trend that’s slowly become more common in America in recent years. As a matter of fact, deaths due to gun violence have increased in the U.S.. Gun homicides have increased 70% from 2011 to 2020, according to everystat.org.

The latest killing is jarring for journalists everywhere, especially for someone like Jared Oliver, a sports anchor for Orlando’s ABC affiliate, WFTV.

“It’s difficult to watch the anxiety reporters in my newsroom have to work through,” Oliver told rolling out. “Even working in sports, I always think about stuff like this, because people around you are unpredictable and you never know where their head space is. Being a journalist is dangerous. I think it always has been. That’s why the job is important to communities. It has become more dangerous because of digital connectivity.”

The digital connectivity Oliver refers to are the live streams and social posts where reporters volunteer their exact locations to their followers. The digital sphere has also provided a home to intense political debates among social media users.

These debates, and online conspiracy theories, peaked during Donald Trump’s first presidential campaign in 2016, and during his term in office from 2017-2021. Trump rallied a horde of dedicated supporters by echoing many of their online political complaints and mainstream media skepticism with the term “fake news.” Trump made the media one of America’s biggest enemies.

While Oliver doesn’t believe this latest attack can be traced directly to Trump, he does agree the public’s skepticism of reporters has grown.

“There was and is an influence in which people do not trust the media,” Oliver said. “Distrust turns into anger for some and can put journalist in dangerous situations. Anyone who uses social media has become desensitized, to everything. People no longer fear the consequences of trying to rattle, bother or threaten a journalist if there’s a chance to [do so] in public. I don’t know if [Moses] targeted local news partners, but it has become apparent people do not trust the news. People should always be objective [about] what they hear and read and not take it for gold. Still, though, no journalist should have their well-being at risk.”

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