Heartbreaking Murder of Journalist Hits Close to Home
Last week was heavy at Spectrum News. In fact, it still is. We're grieving. We're in shock. Yet our Florida team is still showing a tremendous dedication to the community there.
For those that haven't heard, our colleagues from Spectrum News 13 in Orlando, Dylan Lyons and photojournalist Jesse Walden, were just doing their jobs Thursday. They were at at a crime scene where 38-year-old Nathacha Augustin had been found dead. The suspected killer returned to the scene and shot Dylan, Jesse, 9-year-old T'yonna Major and her mother. The mom and Jesse were left critically injured in the attack. Dylan and T'yonna were killed.
As journalists, our industry is reeling.
Dylan Lyons, courtesy of Spectrum News
Grieving the Loss of a Terrific Journalist
I didn't know Dylan personally. I wish I did. From what I've been told, he was a terrific guy who loved everything Disney and serving the community in news. The 24-year-old was from Philadelphia, but graduated from the University of Central Florida before getting a reporter/anchor job in Gainesville. From there, he went to Orlando where our company was lucky enough to get him.
He leaves a loving girlfriend behind. A loving mother behind. A grieving newsroom behind.
Dylan wasn't just passionate about his work, he was good at it. Our company told us he received an award from the Florida Association of Broadcast Journalists and was a finalist for another. He was only 24. What else could he have accomplished?
But it's not his talent that makes this so heartbreaking. It's so devastating because he loved his community, and was just working hard to keep them informed on what was going on. In a perfect world, there wouldn't be any victims. Two others are still in a hospital, and the unnecessary deaths of Nathacha and T'yonna undoubtedly have just as many grieving. But to go after the journalists?
It's not just tragic, it's scary.
The Fourth Estate
The suspect in this case is just 19-years-old, another perpetrator of the widespread violence involving our youth seen across the country - including here in Rochester. And while we need to have serious discussions about mental health and gun violence, let's set that aside for now.
Journalists are often referred to as the Fourth Estate because we exist outside the other "powers." We're observers. A neutral party to keep the community informed, and hold those in power accountable. We report the news. It's rare and shocking when we become the news.
Reporting from active crime scenes is nothing new. Journalists across the country do it every day, often without a photographer. We're sometimes harassed, unfortunately more often if you're female. There's a certain level of danger in what we do, but I don't know how often we're actually aware of it. As observers, we feel protected in a way, like we're in some kind of bubble. On the other side of the crime tape, on the other side of the window. The Freedom of the Press is enshrined in our Constitution, and we wield our press badges like shields.
Let's never take that for granted.
Remembering Dylan Lyons
The crime scene in this case had been cleared for hours. I'm sure Dylan and Jesse felt plenty safe. Until they weren't. And that's the tragedy of it all. They were just doing their jobs. The jobs we all do every day, despite growing attacks on our profession by politicians and certain members of our own communities.
What we do is important. Dylan's work mattered. And if the professionalism his newsroom has shown since his death proves anything, it's that the work continues - even if it involves our own. That's journalism. That's the Fourth Estate.
In Florida, they're honoring Dylan's memory by continuing that work. And while journalists everywhere are shaken by his death, I know many of us are committed to continuing that work too. That's how we can remember Dylan, and honor the job he was so passionate about.
Dylan will be missed. But he lives on at Spectrum, and in the hearts of journalists everywhere. We will always remember Dylan Lyons.
His family has set up a GoFundMe for funeral expenses. If you feel so compelled, I'm sure his loved ones would appreciate any help with this unexpected loss.