The News Media Alliance is horrified at the shooting in the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland yesterday. Our thoughts are with the staff, and the families of those killed and injured. Today we mourn Rob Hiassen, Wendi Winters, Gerald Fischman, John McNamara and Rebecca Smith.
Their lives were senselessly taken yesterday by a man who held grudges over reporting. He had a history of making threats on social media, dating back to 2011.
We will continue to do everything in our power to defend the freedom of the press and honor the sacrifices of the brave and selfless staff of the Capital Gazette. Remarkably, given the trauma they had just been through, the Capital Gazette put out a newspaper today, reporting on their own tragedy. We are confident that journalism, and the Gazette, will continue its important work, no matter the circumstances.
We condemn these brutal murders, and all attacks on journalists. Last year, 74 journalists and media workers were killed around the globe. It is a sober reminder of the human cost that free societies pay for the liberty they enjoy.
Following the shooting, editor Jimmy DeButts wrote on Twitter,“There are no 40-hour weeks, no big paydays — just a passion for telling stories from our community. We keep doing more with less. We find ways to cover high school sports, breaking news, tax hikes, school budgets & local entertainment. We are there in times of tragedy. We do our best to share the stories of people, those who make our community better. Please understand, we do all this to serve our community.”
Nobody should ever go to work fearing for their safety. Journalism cannot flourish in a place where reporters’ lives are at risk for delivering the news, and a democracy cannot flourish without journalism.
David Chavern is former President & CEO of the News/Media Alliance. Chavern has 30 years of experience in executive strategic and operational roles. Prior to the Alliance, he completed a decade-long tenure at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.