Five dead, but Md. newspaper will prevail
It was Thursday evening, just hours after the targeted carnage that unfolded inside the Capital Gazette newsroom, a place where news is reported — not where it’s supposed to be made — and the Annapolis, Md., newspaper tweeted this:
“Yes, we’re putting out a damn paper tomorrow.”
Some of my family and friends who don’t work in the news industry expressed surprise by this strong resolve.
I was not surprised.
This is what we do, after all.
Journalists are taught from day one of j-school that in this business we should expect only one thing — to be available and ready.
I was merely a teenager when I decided this is what I would do with my life. I remember trying to explain to my grandma why I wanted to do this crazy work that involved long and irregular hours covering sometimes horrible atrocities.
It wasn’t easy to explain at that young age, especially when I really hadn’t yet experienced many of life’s ups and downs.
“It’s real,” was how I remember articulating it to her as she sat in her favorite rocking chair in the corner of her living room.
She threw me a look of complete puzzlement. One of her biggest concerns was what if I ever was required to cover an execution? To this day, I have not personally, but if that day came, I remember telling her, I would just go do it.
That’s what we journalists do, after all. And that’s what those folks suffering in Annapolis are doing tonight, as I write this, just one day after the gunman inexplicably opened fire in that newsroom.
Details that have rolled out since the attack indicate the gunman, who apparently had a vendetta against the newspaper, barricaded the rear exit to prevent anyone from escaping and then methodically blasted his way through the newsroom with a pump-action shotgun, cutting down one victim trying to slip out the back.
In the hours following the shooting that claimed the lives of five of his co-workers, Phil Davis, courts and crime reporter for the Capital Gazette, posted this on social media:
“I can’t sleep, so I’ll do the only thing I can and report: Jarrod Ramos, 38, of Laurel, was charged with five counts of first-degree murder in the shooting death of 5 Capital Gazette staffers. He will have a bail review tomorrow at the Annapolis District Courthouse at 10:30 a.m.”
One friend texted me to send her prayers and to get my reaction to the incident that she described as “scary.”
Yes, it’s among any journalist’s worst nightmare. In doing our job to report the news — all the news, without censor — we are bound to upset people. And sadly, these days, you simply can never predict how those people are going to react.
But we do what we do. We go back to work asking questions, seeking answers, sharing with our readers what we find. Only in this case, the stories those journalists in Annapolis are sharing are their own.
Godspeed to all those at the Capital Gazette, and prayers to the families of those who paid with their lives for simply doing their jobs at keeping the public informed.
• Gerald Fischman, 61, editorial page editor, who worked at the paper for more than two decades. He was described as the “master of AP Style,” a description sure to be appreciated by those in my business.
• Robert Hiaasen, 59, had been an assistant editor and a Sunday columnist at the Capital Gazette since 2010.
• John McNamara, 56, was a longtime reporter, sports writer and page designer.
• Rebecca Smith, 34, was a sales assistant who just came to the newspaper last year.
• Wendi Winters, 65, was an editor, columnist and community reporter. Her former editor described her simply as “the heart of the newspaper.”