Their Stories Will Not Be Forgotten: Media Responds to Annapolis Shooting
There was no stopping this press.
Not even a fatal shooting in its own newsroom would stop The Capital Gazette from reporting the story.
It said on Twitter: “Yes, we’re putting out a damn paper tomorrow.”
The names and faces of the victims have been covered by every news agency in the country — and beyond.
Robert Hiaasen, Gerald Fischman, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith, Wendi Winters. These are the 5 Victims of The Capital Gazette Newsroom Shooting in Annapolis, as reported by The New York Times.
The dust from this tragedy will never settle.
Their stories will not be forgotten. And, newsrooms today are doing something new: Locking the door.
“I visit many newsrooms in the course of my work,” said Mark Hamrick, Washington bureau chief with Bankrate.com. “Many of them have ramped up their security in recent years, more so in the New York City area. Clearly, the Annapolis murders remind news organization leaders that security cannot be overlooked.”
I’m a journalist, a truth-teller.
Beth Zacharias Hunt, director of editorial recruiting and development with American City Business Journals, wrote a deeply personal post to Facebook about the work of journalists and the risks that come with the job.
“I’m driven to tell stories — sad stories, hard stories, good stories, your stories,” Hunt said. “My work is public so it’s open to criticism from everyone — people who have read it, people who haven’t, people who don’t like the facts as they are, people who believe what they think is fact and everything else is bias. Have you ever asked yourself whether your work could stand the level of scrutiny and exacting standards from strangers that mine gets day after day?”
Hunt’s post was shared 34 times.
“The number of bad eggs in my business is no bigger — and is likely smaller — than the number in yours,” she wrote. “The difference? When we do something wrong, we do so in front of God and everyone. When you do something wrong, it’s typically in private. When powerful people and entities do something wrong, it would be private, too, were it not for people like me.”
The media world could only watch, grieve, and attempt to process what was done to one of its own.
A passion for telling stories
“For those who find ongoing sport in caustic attacks on ‘the media’ that in reality they know almost nothing about, be silent for a moment, please, and read these words last night from the editor of the Capital Gazette: “… just know @capgaznews reporters & editors give all they have every day. There are no 40-hour weeks, no big paydays – just a passion for telling stories from our community,” says Gene Policinski, president and chief operating officer of the Freedom Forum Institute in DC.
It’s the job.
“That’s what real journalists do: report on school board meetings or international summit,” Policinski said, in Five dead, more hurt at Annapolis newspaper – a sad, sad story. “Write about funny moments during a local snowfall or the horrors of war in far-off lands. Tell us what’s in our child’s school lunches or chronicle the impact of cuts in funding for a nationwide lunch program. They do that in communities large and small, in quiet neighborhoods or incredibly dangerous conflict zones, down the block or thousands of miles away from home.”
Concerns about press freedom
Hamrick says that in some ways, the shooting is parallel to the concerns about press freedom, which mostly have been focused on journalists working abroad and in war zones or terror hot spots.
More recently, this has been top-of-mind in the US.
The shooting is a “tragic reminder that reporters – both in the field and in the newsroom are at risk for violence from a variety of sources,” said Andrea Edney, president of the National Press Club.
“Journalism is a dangerous job filled with risks that can turn lethal with little notice,” Edney said. “We call on those who use hateful rhetoric to criticize, intimidate and incite violence against journalists for their own political gain to pause and reflect on the damage they do to human beings, their families and their communities. In this climate, we must have more responsible rhetoric from our leaders now and in the future.”
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Christine Cube is a senior audience relations manager with PR Newswire and freelance writer. Follow her at @cpcube.