“There will be a Capital Friday.”
That’s how newspapers roll. No matter if the power is out, the press room is flooded, the town is knocked flat by a tornado, the city’s on fire as well as flooded, or whether the newsroom is devastated by a madman with a gun — the paper gets out the next day.
The attack last week at the Annapolis Capital Gazette company took the lives of five bright, talented, committed employees — four journalists and a sales person — and injured two others. But it couldn’t stop their colleagues from doing their job — getting fast, accurate news out to the world in the worst of circumstances.
Even in the chaos immediately after, photojournalist Joshua McKerrow put out on Twitter, “Continuing to cover story with Capital journalists Chase Cook and Pat Ferguson. Thanks to our @baltimoresun colleagues who are here too. There will be a Capital Friday.”
Cook tweeted, “I can tell you this: We are putting out a damn paper tomorrow.”
For those of us who work in newsrooms, those are the most reassuring words you can hear: We’ll meet our deadlines, get the press started and put out a paper. The world will keep spinning, and one way or another, we’ll report the news.
Yes, we’ll report instantly online, on Facebook and Twitter and wherever else people get news, but there’s a visceral comfort that only journalists can feel, even amid the greatest tragedy, that the company will come together, we’ll hear and feel the familiar rumble of the press and we’ll get the paper out.
Not every paper can rise to that challenge, and things happen. In Annapolis, Md., those journalists got the paper out while grieving for their colleagues and friends: Rob Hiaasen, assistant editor and columnist; Wendi Winters, special publications editor; Gerald Fischman, editorial page editor; John McNamara, reporter; and Rebecca Smith, sales assistant.
They were killed for doing their jobs — informing the public, as the Gazette has done in Maryland’s capital since 1727. The Gazette was the seventh paper established in colonial America, and in July 1776 was one of the first to publish the text of the Declaration of Independence — on page 2, as the Baltimore Sun reported Thursday: “Then, as now, local news took precedence.”
Ahead of the most desperate personal needs of the men and women in that newsroom Thursday, “local news took precedence.”
To the crew at the Capital, the Gazette, the Baltimore Sun and all our brethren in the news business: You’re incredible. Thank you for your courage and professionalism. Thank you for getting the paper out.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE ROCHESTER POST-BULLETIN