“5 dead in Maryland newspaper shooting,” read the headline.
Shootings are always painful, but this time, it was personally shattering.
One of the first tweets we read 15 months ago on June 28, 2018, was from someone who was working at the Annapolis newspaper at the time of the shooting. It was the crime reporter for the Capital Gazette, still reporting the news after being shot at.
“There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you’re under your desk and then hear the gunman reload,” the reporter, Phil Davis, tweeted.
Another Gazette reporter, Chase Cook, also was tweeting his reaction to the news after being away from the office. He shared details of what information was released by police, before defiantly tweeting, “I can tell you this: We are putting out a damn paper tomorrow.”
In our nation’s capital, 32 miles from Annapolis, there are many memorials to those who gave their lives protecting our freedoms. But there is no monument to the journalists who made the same sacrifice.
We are reminded of a photo taken shortly before the 2016 election. It was a picture of the back of a man’s shirt at a Trump rally.
“Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some assembly required,” it read.
We know people sometimes get upset with media. There always will be news stories with which people disagree or feel uncomfortable. But do they really want us dead?
We watch as millions of Americans turn away from fact-based reporting and choose to get their “news” elsewhere, purely based on assumptions and what they were told to believe. Liberals and conservatives alike have been guilty of sharing incorrect, half-true or cherry-picked information with their friends and followers on social media. Hate spreads. Division grows.
We are the watchdogs of governments, schools and crime. We spot falsehoods, notice trends and confirm corruption. We are trained and paid to do this. People who don’t even read the paper claim we are biased, liars and “fake news.”
Yet we do this for you — our readers.
On the anniversary of the Capital Gazette shooting, a bipartisan group of Congress members introduced legislation that would authorize a memorial for fallen U.S. journalists. If enacted into law, “The Fallen Journalists Memorial Act of 2019” would allow the Fallen Journalists Memorial Foundation to raise private funds to build a memorial in Washington, D.C.
American journalists who have sacrificed their lives while working to deliver the news to others are worthy of a place of honor in this nation.