Color bars for Virginia

Color bars for Virginia

It is fascinating to me how many of my television friends are switching their profile photos to color bars in honor of our two colleagues who were heinously and senselessly killed in Virginia this morning.

Television news (and the digital counterpart) is a small community, which often has its sentimentality overlooked because reporters put on an air of detachment along with their makeup. But the choice of the color bars should be a sign, subtle I admit, of the depth of personal feeling that newsmen and newswomen do possess.

Color bars serve basically no purpose in modern news technology. Aside from a few engineers who test our equipment, they aren’t used and they serve no daily purpose in the digital age. But we still have them around.

Perhaps it is because we in the American media have such a strong legacy to live up to, and our predecessors used this tool every day. Or maybe it is because the colors have become iconic in their own way.

The fact that so many in the media have chosen to use this symbol as a sign of our camaraderie with our lost peers is significant to me. It is a tool we kept around due to sentimentality and a symbol we are using to express our sentimentality for each other.

In newsrooms, we are not callous people, but we do put our feelings aside — as best human beings can — because we genuinely believe in our jobs. (Why else work through this stress and criticism for so little personal reward?)

We all move around a lot, often to cities where we have no friends or family. As a result, we form families around each other.

While I may not have known Alison Parker or Adam Ward, I know that our extended news family feels their loss deeply and shows it (however subtly) with the colors that once signified that a broadcast had ended and also represents that the signal is ready to resume again tomorrow.