The Dispatch Media Group in Columbus joined news organizations across the country in a moment of silence Thursday afternoon, July 5, 2018, in tribute to the Annapolis Capital Gazette staff members killed in the line of duty last week – and to those who carry on their mission of community journalism.
Dispatch reporter Randy Ludlow reminded the Dispatch staff that, beyond this pause in the work day to remember Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters, the greatest tribute journalists can make is to continue doing good journalism for our communities each day.
The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer’s employees held a moment of silence in our building’s courtyard. Publisher Bob Gruber talked about how all of us as journalists, sales reps, press operators and everyone else who works for our newspaper consider our co-workers like family. We are united in our grief for the Gazette victims and consider them part of our family, too.
About about 35 people – journalists and journalism students – gathered with APME President and Civilbeat.org Managing Editor Jim Simon (silver hair, blue shirt, blue jeans)and offered remarks about the need for a vital press,at a beachside park in Honolulu. The gentlemen in the white shirt and white cap is former Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie.
I am the editor of The Sun Times in Heber Springs, Arkansas. There is only one person (me) in the newsroom and only four in the office. One was out yesterday so there were only three of us. We all had the moment of silence while sitting at our desks. I, personally, prayed silently for the families of those who were killed. Afterwards it got me thinking about could that happen here? Then today as I was going through emails, there was an online Publisher magazine that comes to me and in it was a guest column which talked about newsroom safety. I am lucky to have a great relationship with our local law enforcement, both city and county. Because of the Capital Gazette incident, I am going to speak with our Sheriff who has done several active shooter trainings, about coming to our office and doing one with us.
It is a sad world we live in. Not because of guns, but because of people who seem to think it is ok to murder and maim others. We don't need more gun control, we need more self control and understanding.
Thanks for allowing me to share.
The Sun Times
A poem in support
In reading about the Capital Gazette shooting and particularly the delay of response from the government contrasting with the journalists who managed to continue producing their paper, I would like to offer my thanks and admiration to the professionals in this field. Below is a poem I just wrote to show my support. Hope it helps.
—"Adina Cassal" (pen name)
For the brave men and women
who risk their lives
to save our way of life and democracy
who work long days and longer nights,
who fear danger, face fear and keep going
who go to wars, natural disasters,
violence and tragedies
who respond to every call in minutes,
always ready to give their best
whose families wait at home,
wondering and worried,
who hold the very essence of a free nation
in their hands and fingers
armed with courage and conviction
and with pen and paper
and who write with no expectation
of being praised or paraded:
There are days and parades
for government and soldiers,
for mothers, fathers and lovers,
for religious worship and change of seasons,
may there be a day of thanks
for the hard working, brave and honest
A couple of tweets from yesterday, where the MetroWest Daily News and Wicked Local observed a minute of silence in the newsroom. I actually debated the appropriateness of taking video or photos and ended up not doing either.
Capital Gazette shooting affects us in different ways
At 2:30 p.m. Thursday — three minutes before our staff observed a moment of silence for our peers killed at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland — I started to gather people in the center of the newsroom.
I knew it was going to be difficult for me to get through my brief talking points.
Last week, as the news started breaking and I watched in shock of what I was seeing at a newspaper so similar in size and resources as ours, with the same local news mission, I couldn't focus. All week colleagues, peers, community advisory panel members, neighbors, baseball moms and dads came up to me and asked how I was holding up and how our staff was holding up.
"What if that happened here?" dominated my thoughts.
The reality is that there isn't a whole hell of a lot I could do about it if someone like that really set his or her mind to that kind of mayhem here. Being the executive editor isn't going to stop something like that.
The people who came up to me all week were so kind. They understood that it had to be difficult to have that type of thing happen elsewhere, while knowing it could happen here or any newsroom in America. At a time when it's commonplace to bash "the media," every one of those people put that aside, including people who often disagree with what they see on the pages of our newspaper.
Len Franckowiak, a Bucks County Courier Times advisory panel member who self-admittedly leans to the right politically, wrote: "The killing in Maryland is another event which included red flags that were ignored or not considered a problem. Hate is a red flag. Instead of calling hate a red flag, people (depending on one's politics) cheer people on who spout threatening things ... including politicians. The media need to let people know that hate has no place here. What happened in Maryland can happen here ... at the Courier and other companies and other places. Now is the time for the media to make it clear that the media despises haters and will no longer tolerate such discourse. It is a much better use of ink than printing testimonials."
I took Franckowiak's comments as healthy not only for journalists but for everyone.
So as I thought about what I wanted to say to staff before we joined in a moment of silence that newsrooms across the country observed exactly one week after the event, a thousand more things went through my mind.
I looked around the room at the veteran reporters, young up-and-comers, the news assistants, the business and advertising staff who joined us and took a deep breath. These are people who looked like the Gazette staff who were so senselessly gunned down. Editorial page editor Gerald Fischman, 61; assistant editor and columnist Rob Hiaasen, 59; sportswriter John McNamara, 56; sales assistant Rebecca Smith, 34, and Wendi Winters, 65, a community correspondent in charge of special publications, told stories the way we tell stories. They interacted with the public the way we interact with the public. They faced the same challenges of putting out a local newspaper that we put out.
I could feel myself tear up. So I kept it simple.
I told the staff that we all were dealing with this in our own way. That we all realize that it could have been us. The most important thing I told them, as I struggled to get the words out, was what they did for a living matters.
We "didn't take any pictures, allowed my staff to have the private moment if they liked. This was my email to them on Thursday:
"As a way to honor those who lost their lives and to show support for our journalism colleagues at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, I am asking that we join newsrooms throughout the globe to join in a moment of silence at 2:33 this afternoon.
"Whether you are in the newsroom or at an assignment, please consider this simple gesture as a reminder of what we do and the sacrifice journalists across the world continue to make in the name of free speech.