I feel speechless. But there are things that need to be said.
Two editors and I sit in chairs rolled close so we can talk about a story I’m so excited to run.
We just figured out one more piece to add to the puzzle.
And then something hits home. A notification comes in.
My executive editor says it first — people have been shot at a newspaper building.
We immediately turn to the flatscreen televisions that line the wall of the newsroom.
I put my hand over my mouth, I don’t even gasp.
I know my face has to be white.
I get chills and tears fill my eyes.
News just broke — we don’t know why this happened or who did this yet.
Hours later there were answers — answers we got through hard-working journalists.
Five people dead.
The Capital Gazette reported the suspect had a long-standing grudge against the newspaper. He had previously — and unsuccessfully — sued the paper for defamation.
Reporters at The Capital worked together and put out a paper the next day. I praise that hard work that was done in the midst of all of the emotions they must have been feeling.
I absolutely lose it when I get home from work while I watch the press conference.
Tears pour down my face — and it won’t be the first time tears pour after this.
Each time I see a tweet or story, I cry. And things don’t usually impact me like this. I haven’t had too much tragedy in my life. Normally one good cry and I’m over it.
But this — no.
This is insane.
Let me tell you who we are
I’m tired of people misunderstanding journalism.
We are not fake.
We do not make up lies.
We should NOT be the enemy of the people.
Those who aren’t journalists just don’t get how hard it is for us sometimes.
We get cussed out. We are told to our faces that we are not liked. We get hate mail, phone calls. We get trolled on social media. We get asked why we wrote that story.
We constantly argue with public officials who don’t want to tell us stuff — people whose salaries are PAID BY THE TAXPAYERS.
Our Carolinas regional editor Robyn Tomlin said it best in a column Friday: “I, myself, have had my tires slashed, my car keyed and have been called every name in the book. Even so, I’ve never truly felt unsafe. Unsettled maybe, but not unsafe. Until this week.”
Don’t. Be. Mad. We. Shed. Light.
It’s simple — if we didn’t report, who would?
We tell the truth. Again, it’s simple — if we didn’t, we’d likely have a lawsuit against us for libel.
We uncover and report stories about all kinds of things — sex crimes against children that aren’t investigated properly, bacteria levels in the ocean, features on military veterans, armed robberies, murders, eating disorders.
It’s our job. We get paid to do it.
We get paid to take time to dig into things that other people may not have time for or necessarily know how to navigate and research.
I was trained to search public documents and find things.
I was trained to write fair and ethically and give every possible person a story involves the chance to tell his or her side. And because we do that DOES NOT mean we are putting our own personal opinion into a story.
Listen, I’ve got plenty of opinions. Plenty. But I choose to stay neutral — it’s a part of the career.
I don’t talk about my political views publicly. I just don’t.
I’m not an activist trying to push one side or the other. I’m simply presenting things that I’ve been told, I’ve uncovered, I’ve researched.
The issue is people are ignorant to what we do and why we do what we do.
The issue is that we have a government that is trying to turn people away from and to hate the news media.
The issue is we are misunderstood for the reasons we push people for information.
We are your friends. We are not your enemy.
What we do matters. I’d hate to see what this world would look like without us journalists.
This is why I do it:
Oh, and this:
I can’t forget this:
And I’ll sure as hell will never forget this: