Following yet another mass shooting in our country, my heart is in shambles once again. This time, though, I’m especially troubled as the travesty occurred in a setting I’m all too familiar with — a newsroom.
For the better part of my life, I’ve been inspired by newsrooms and the work of journalists. Telling stories, revealing the truth, keeping the powerful in check … It’s why I studied the field in college and why I made a career shift to jump right back in. Along the way, I’ve been lucky to learn the industry from old school experts similar to Rob Hiaasen — one of the five Capital Gazette employees killed and reportedly a mentor to several young journalists — and I now aspire to follow in their footsteps.
Thanks to these mentors and a few years in the field, I’ve quickly learned those who comprise a newsroom are a special breed. They put in far too many hours, often don’t reap the rewards and never stop moving. Yet for many of them, myself included, they love what they do, and they feel honored to do it, because the job is greater than themselves. It’s a lifestyle. It’s a passion. It’s a service for the greater good.
The Capital Gazette continued to provide that service on June 29, printing a paper in Annapolis the day after its own employees were mowed down by a shotgun-wielding villain. CNBC journalist John Harwood tweeted June 28 following the shooting that Pat Ferguson, his former high school classmate and a Capital Gazette reporter, told his wife, Becky, he was safe, charging his phone, trying to find colleagues and “putting out a paper, goddamn it.”
Inspirational? You better believe it. But surprising? Not for those of us in the field. It’s what we do, as Florida Times Union sports reporter Gary Smits also tweeted June 28. We keep going.
As the days move forward, we will continue to grieve with our fellow journalists at the Capital Gazette, as well as their families, and we will honor them the only way we know how, by continuing to fight the good fight, regardless of what adversity may strike.