We’re not going to grumble about our jobs as journalists. Yeah, the industry has been stressed lately, and we’ve toiled under tight budgets and with smaller newsrooms trying to get the news out. Never mind that. After a man burst into the offices of the Annapolis, Maryland, Capital-Gazette at 2:33 p.m. June 28, killing four veteran reporters and a sales assistant, whining went out the window.
It’s our job to work long hours for crummy pay trying to tell your stories. Public officials don’t always like us. Our own president calls us “the enemy of the people.” People scream at us over a story. Sometimes we get sued. We get nasty letters to the editor. That’s all part of the job, expected and accepted. You learn to grow a thick skin in this business.
Ever since the attack on the Paris offices of humor magazine “Charlie Hebdo” in January 2015, the thought that someday journalists in America would get killed loomed as a real threat. In less-free countries, tyrants jail, torture and murder reporters. We had hoped that we would escape the fate of school teachers, students, ministers and worshippers. After June 28, that hope vanished. Now, we’re victims, too.
Demented souls now think they can address their grievances against the press not just with a letter or a lawsuit, but with lethality. Like too many Americans with easy access to firearms, some want to shoot first and debate never. Our political climate enables violence, too — violence against peaceful protesters, violence against people who don’t agree with you and violence for the sake of violence.
And now five people have died in the service of journalism. At 10:33 a.m. today (2:33 p.m. Maryland time, a week after the attacks), we and other Homer, Alaska and national journalists will take a few moments of silence to honor the sacrifice of Rob Hiassen, Gerald Fischman, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters. Join us in your own offices and homes.
Then we will do what the Capital Gazette reporters did after their colleagues died. Last Thursday night, from the back of pickup trucks, in a parking garage across from their offices, they put out a paper.
We will get back to work, more determined, more vigilant and conscious that now our sense of safety has been shattered.
After the “Charlie Hebdo” attacks, a cartoon circulated showing a hand holding a pencil shining in the darkness. “Même pas peur,” it read, French for “not a bit afraid.” We’re cautious and careful, but defiant.
Même pas peur, citizens. Même pas peur.