From the Editor: When the newsroom becomes a war zone
By MARIA D. JAMES — I am at a loss for words. That is a big problem, since my career as a journalist depends on my ability to string together words. The increasing number of mass shootings across the country has drained the life out of me. Maybe you feel the same way.
It seems that our hearts had barely healed from the last mass shooting when we received word on June 28 that a gunman entered the newsroom at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis. I was heartbroken to learn that five colleagues in community journalism were senselessly taken away by an individual who, we later learned, had an ongoing vendetta against the paper and its staff.
When I made the decision during my senior year in high school to pursue a career in journalism, I did not equate that decision with danger or sacrifice. Don’t get me wrong; in school, I did learn about the threats of violence against publications that openly supported abolishing slavery and Jim Crow laws. I also learned about the sacrifices journalists made while working on the front lines to cover the Vietnam War. In these instances, journalist risked death as they pursued the the truth. Sadly, now the war is on journalists, themselves.
One ray of hope for me during this ugly time comes from our youth. Recently, the Hyattsville Life and Times (HL&T) hired a summer intern, Chris Tulp. Chris is a senior at the University of Maryland and is interested in community journalism and sports. The attacks against journalism have not deterred him — or thousands of other young reporters who still believe in the power of journalism in our community and in the world. As I watch children, teens and young adults rally together to tackle major issues like school shootings and gun control, I feel uplifted and encouraged. I hope that you, like me, can draw strength from our youth.
The staff and board of directors for the HL&T express our support and sympathy to the staff at the Capital Gazette, and to the family and friends of the victims, and we honor the lives of those killed on June 28 by sharing their names: