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Remembering 9/11 as a news anchor

Posted at 11:06 AM, Sep 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-08 14:06:48-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — “For all the stories you cover, this is the one. 20 years, 25 years, 50 years, that impacted everybody in some ways,” said Todd Karli.

Todd and his wife Jackie Parks were news anchors for 23ABC back on September 11, 2001. As anchors, they're used to reporting on breaking news, but nothing could have prepared them for that day.

For anyone who watched the 9/11 attacks — whether it be in person, or on television — they can tell you exactly where they were when it happened.

“I was in the newsroom, and after watching this coverage all day and all day and all day, I looked up there was a monitor and it was showing live coverage from ABC. And it had a video from the ground of a plane flying right into the building, like right overhead," Jackie said. "And I had never seen that angle before and it just stopped me in my tracks. I thought, oh my gosh, what are we in for? What is this? It really brought it home,”

In between the cycle of national news coverage — Todd and Jackie sat at the anchor desk, working to bring the local connections to the national tragedy.

“You’re watching it happen and you’re trying to process that, and also well we have to work and do something here locally," Todd said.

While it’s a rule among journalists to remain objective — in this case, maintaining distance wasn’t so easy.

“I wish I’d known that then because you know, trying to be stoic to a certain degree, and trying to keep it all together like everything’s fine, but you know, journalists are people too," Jackie said. "And it’s really difficult in situations like that to just put on a stoic face and be the anchor in charge because you just feel everything everybody’s feeling.”

For Jackie especially — she said those days were made even more intense by the fact that the couple was expecting their first child.

“I was sad, I was just sad, but you know you had to maintain the professional aspect of it and go on the air,” she said.

Still — they knew there were stories that needed to be told.

“Just let people talk, and share their stories, and share their emotions. And just sorta let it play out in their own words," Todd said.

As they searched for local connections, what they found was a community looking to come together during this tragedy.

“The community, the outpouring of support from the community just was amazing, well Bakersfield is always like that,” Jackie said.

Todd and Jackie say they hope journalists take from this tragedy the lesson of compassion while reporting the news.

"Never forget your humanity. Never forget that that could very well be you on the other side one day," Jackie said.