Regardless of risk, “It’s what we do!”
I wrote a story once on the subject of “deadbeat dads” who fail to pay thousands in child support. Months later I was heading into work in the dark at 5 a.m. to open my office and begin my checklist of editorial “to do’s”.
On my way to the entrance a man walked up to me and began berating me about that story. I didn’t want to unlock the door and give him easy access to the building so I kept walking — straight to the police station that was, thankfully, next door. That incident began a very uncomfortable period of stalking.
I shudder to think what this incident might have been in today’s violent mindset. Did it keep me from writing real hard-hitting stories? Nope.
Along with with all the great events that happen, all the political ruckus, all the tragedies of accidents, fires, mass shootings, I’ve covered crime, murders, and all manner of evil. My job for the past 51 years has been to tell it like it is.
It’s what happens every day at media outlets like the Capital Gazette, the Baltimore Sun, the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and thousands of newspapers, radio stations and television networks in major metropolitan areas and small towns everywhere. It’s our job.
I applaud the staff of the Baltimore Sun and those who survived the attack on the Capital Gazette for continuing to do their jobs in the worst possible circumstances.
Around the country, security is being beefed up at media outlets, but every day journalists go out into the field and cover the stories that matter. Logistically they cannot be protected all the time. They never know, especially in this violent time, what story, what basic or blockbuster news item, might trip someone into violence. It doesn’t always have to make sense.
The free press is a standard in America that can not be silenced, that cannot be intimidated, that will not succumb to fear or be oppressed . Good or bad, they will uncover truth. The consequence of that truth is unpredictable.
I found myself for a few minutes, a few hours, reeling from the sucker punch of Thursday’s “breaking news.” Feeling horror at the slaughter of fellow journalists. Then I took time to breathe.
And today. like thousands of other journalists, I began writing again.