News Take: Free Press Focus: Preventing Another Capital Gazette Shooting: Why We Need The Journalist Protection Act

“His sixth life term was for my attempted murder. … I wish every day we could go back to June 27th and have it be like it was with my coworkers and me working in our newsroom and just try to tell the stories from our community. … That’s what keeps me going is trying to honor my colleagues. I struggle every day with PTSD and depression and anxiety … It’s something that I don’t think will ever go away.”

–  Paul Gillespie, Capital Gazette

“We need this backstop of federal protection in the event that local authorities decline to act whenever a journalist is attacked … it will send a strong message to the American people that violence against anyone, particularly journalists, seeking and reporting the truth on behalf of the public, will not be tolerated.”

–  Dan Shelley, RTDNA

Guests: Paul Gillespie, Capital Gazette and Dan Shelley, RTDNA

In this first episode of News Take: Free Press Focus, a subseries of the News Take podcast, we hear from RTDNA CEO Dan Shelley and Capital Gazette Photojournalist Paul Gillespie about the dangers that journalists face on the job and what can be done to combat the threat of violence. Gillespie is one of six survivors of the 2018 shooting at the Capital Gazette in Maryland and speaks on his experience and the importance of shielding journalists from harm. Dan Shelley speaks to RTDNA’s major priority in passing the Journalist Protection Act, a law that would make assaulting a journalist a federal crime. With extensive experience in the media industry, both Gillespie and Shelley illustrate the significance of journalists as a whole and what we, as a community, can do to support them.

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Speaker bios:

Paul Gillespie has been a photojournalist at Capital Gazette Communications since 2000. He is a 2019 Pulitzer Prize recipient and was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year alongside the staff at Capital Gazette. Gillespie is one of six survivors of the 2018 shooting at Capital Gazette in Annapolis, in which he lost five close colleagues. He is one of two survivors who still work for the publication today.

Dan Shelley is the President and CEO of the Radio Television Digital News Association, RTDNA, the world’s largest professional organization dedicated to broadcast and digital journalism. He has an extensive background in digital media, including his previous role as Senior Vice President, Digital Content Strategy at iHeartMedia. Since the Journalist Protection Act was introduced in 2018, RTDNA has heavily advocated for passing the legislation.

Related links:

Journalists Matter Project – Faces of the Capital Gazette

The Journalist Protection Act – Senate press release

RTDNA – Journalist Protection Act Advocacy Toolkit


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News Take Production Team:

Host and Executive Producer: Charlotte McBirney, Senior Counsel & Director of Public Policy, News/Media Alliance

Production Support, Editing & Distribution:

Georgi-Ann Clarke, Social Media & Content Manager, News/Media Alliance
Lindsey Loving, Director, Communications, News/Media Alliance
Kayla Singer, 2023 Summer Intern, News/Media Alliance

Audio & Video Engineer: Current Media Group

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