A journalist’s response to Capital Gazette shootings

A week ago, I started getting push news app alerts that there was a potential shooting incident in Annapolis, Md.

I closed my eyes and wished that it wasn’t another  mass shooting. We are currently living in a world where mass shootings occur far too often, because (among many issues) the current administration is in bed with the NRA.

I was sitting at my desk, writing an assignment for my local newspaper. I immediately switched into investigative journalist mode and started combing Twitter to find out what kind of setting the shooting had taken place.

The shooting was probably still ongoing, but reports were pouring in that it was at the Capital Gazette newspaper office. I felt sick to my stomach.

Though I don’t work in a newsroom, I am a journalist who writes for a paper. I work in an office, a desk job at a motel. I felt like that could have been me. 

It’s one thing when shootings occur at school, because school is a place that everyone should feel safe. But work is also not a place you should expect to be gunned down by a crazy person. You should not have to hide from a shooter under our desk.

In February, Trump Tweeted that the news media is “the enemy of the American people.”  He continually attacks the free press, and again on Monday he reiterated his “enemy” stance, a few days before the shooting.

I saw a Tweet from an intern at the Capital Gazette, saying there was an active shooter and to send help. I started seeing more Tweets from staff at the Gazette, revealing the details of the shooting. They were literally reporting the news while under attack.

The police confirmed they caught the perpetrator and the situation was contained.

Soon after, the news was released that five employees of the Gazette were killed. As always, the White House sent thoughts and prayers.

Reports stated that this attack was the deadlist day for journalists since 9/11. Murders of American journalists are rare.

The Capital Gazette lost five employees. Five families were forever impacted on June 29, 2018. The very same night, the staff of the Gazette put out obituaries for each employee.

Editorialist Gerald Fischman. Editor Rob Hiaasen. Sports reporter John McNamara. Reporter Wendi Winters. Sales assistant Rebecca Smith.

The journalists at the Capital Gazette had to step over their dead co-workers to escape. They live tweeted updates while hiding under their desks.

The world would have understood if they did not put out a newspaper on June 30. But as Gazette employee Chase Cook said, they put out a damn newspaper the next day.

No one should feel unsafe at work. But the fact of the matter is, we live in a world gone crazy. Trump continues to attack journalists and calls the media “fake news.” The only way to dispel his disregard for the First Amendment, is to continue to write.

Journalism matters. Reporters matter. We want to share the truth with the world.  As the Editor of the Capital Gazette so eloquently said, “We will continue to honor our dead. But we will also remember those who remain. They were journalists. And so are we.”

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