My View: Honor victims of Capital Gazette shooting by carrying on their mission
By now, I’m sure you have heard about the shooting at the Capital Gazette.
A gunman who had a long-running grudge against the newspaper, carried out a “targeted attack,” killing five employees.
The act of senseless violence hit close to home at newspapers across the country.
However, despite the horrific events of the day, and the days following, the staff of the Capital Gazette did what they do best — they reported the news.
Employees took to Twitter to keep the public informed of what was happening and to seemingly process what they went through. Reporter Chase Cook made clear the newspapers’ intentions and spirit of its newsroom.
“I can tell you this: We are putting out a damn paper tomorrow,” he tweeted.
And they did.
It was this unbreakable determination that rang through the journalism community online. Even though most of us have never lived through such a tragedy, we understood.
And it wasn’t just journalists coming together, it was entire communities.
Over the next few days, my social media timeliness were filled with photos of meals being brought to newsrooms across the country from readers who wanted to say “we appreciate what you guys do.”
I couldn’t help but think of my newsroom, one I feel so lucky to work in.
I thought about my colleagues, who are parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, eager college graduates and one of my closest friends since our college days.
I think about the people who work for the Times Leader Media Group who have lived in the Wyoming Valley area their entire lives and who have put in close to 30 years serving our readers.
We spend more time together than I do with most of my family. I eat at least two meals a day with my coworkers and go out for celebratory drinks after long election nights. They helped me celebrate my engagement and wedding.
And I thought: What if that happened here?
Very seldom do journalists take the time to discuss the process we go through. You see our bylines and read our stories, but sometimes we all forget that behind those bylines are real live people with their own struggles to deal with.
As Capital Gazette editor Jimmy DeButts put it, “There are no 40-hour weeks, no big paydays — just a passion for telling stories from our community.
“We keep doing more with less. We find ways to cover high school sports, breaking news, tax hikes, school budgets and local entertainment. We are there in times of tragedy. We do our best to share the stories of people, those who make our community better. Please understand, we do this to serve our community.”
Just like at the Gazette, it’s the work of dedicated staffers that continue to fill our pages with relevant, important and entertaining stories. I have editors who are here in the morning before I come in and here long after I go home at night.
And just like at the Gazette, a workday here isn’t confined to an eight-hour shift, but dictated by when our stories are finished, our photos perfect, our pages designed and the paper printed.
My colleagues go to public meetings at night after putting in a full morning and afternoon. They chase tornadoes after their shifts have ended, and wait long hours at police barracks to let you know when police make your neighborhoods that much safer.
All just to keep you informed.
I learn from everyone in this newsroom each day I walk through the door. While my career is just beginning, I have the wisdom of the absolute best writers and editors in this community to lean upon.
I’m as proud to call them co-workers as I am to consider those at the Capital Gazette my brothers and sisters. Our hearts go out to them.
Even as this tragedy gives all of us who work in this wonderful business pause, we will continue to honor those who died last week the in best way we know — by, as my college adviser used to say, fighting the good fight.
Brigid Brigid Edmunds-Lawrence writes a column for the Times Leader each Monday. Her views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper. Reach Brigid at 570-991-6113 or on Twitter @brigidedmunds.