They were sons, daughters, brothers, sisters. They had families, people who loved them, who worried when they got home too late. They had people who celebrated their successes — getting their story on the front page or buying their first car — and supported them through their failures. They wanted to enhance their community. They wanted to report the truth.
Just like us.
Five journalists lost their lives after a man with a vendetta barricaded them in their newsroom Thursday. He killed them with a pump-action shotgun.
The 38-year-old male had a long feud with the paper, including threatening online messages and a failed defamation lawsuit.
Thursday, he came to the newsroom prepared. Officials said he had a plan. A plan to trap journalists inside the newsroom. A tactical plan to kill. A plan to escape.
Each morning, staff members at The Daily News go to work in a glass bubble. They are greeted by their friends’ smiling faces. The reality of a world where one of us would instead be greeted by an empty desk is unimaginable.
As a paper focused on providing local, community-based content, this hits hard. We know what it is like to be invested, to know personally the community we are writing about and impacting. The state of trust in the media has been on a rapid decline. A recent Gallup poll said 62 percent of Americans think the news is biased.
As students who hope to one day become successful in our field, this is deeply concerning.
We understand mistakes will be made. We know we will work long hours for little pay. We understand the job may, at times, be dangerous.
We deeply believe our job is important.
Our job is to know our readers, to inform them of the successes of their neighbors. We believe in the fourth estate — uncovering the truth and reporting the facts. We give a voice to those who may not otherwise have one and yes, we keep an eye on the government. We do it because we care.
And that doesn’t stop when we leave the newsroom.
We have an inexplicable curiosity. We constantly seek out stories, listen to police scanners and talk to our families about what’s happening in the community.
The staff at Capital Gazette distributed a paper less than 24 hours after five of their own were murdered. Because of a promise they made to their readers, they published a paper, just like they’ve done since 1727.
This isn’t the first time journalists have been attacked. Journalists around the world have been threatened, ridiculed and arrested. We, as college journalists, have received backlash. We have fielded heated phone calls, angry emails and verbal abuse while covering stories.
But none of that matters. We, at the end of the day, are here to help our community. Those five journalists were there to help their community.
This event, while tragic, will not deter us.