Standing in Solidarity with the Capital Gazette
Five journalists were killed last Thursday in a shooting at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland. What provoked their killer, Jarrod Ramos, to shoot his way into their newsroom armed with a shotgun and smoke grenades? The newspaper’s coverage of a harassment lawsuit filed against him in 2011, coverage he decried as defamation.
The victims identified in the attack were Gerald Fischman, editorial page writer; Rob Hiaasen, assistant editor and columnist; John McNamara, staff sports writer; Wendi Winters, community correspondent and head of special publications; and Rebecca Smith, sales assistant.
The Vista sends our sincerest condolences to the journalists affected by this shooting, as well as their family and friends. We also express our sincerest admiration for that newsroom’s resilience and dedication in the face of such a tragedy, as they proceeded to print their newspaper the following day.
Our colleagues at the Capital Gazette are victims of a lone gunman. They are, perhaps, victims of America’s increasing gun violence. Undeniably, they are victims of a growing hostility to free press and professional journalism.
As student journalists, we at The Vista are well-aware of the rigors and inherent dangers of the profession to which we aspire. Yet we are increasingly aware of the new challenges, of journalists being labeled enemies of the American people.
We are aware of the widespread use of the term ‘fake news’ not only for those websites blatantly spreading fake headlines, but also for legitimate and respected media outlets whose only crime is reporting on political agendas with which they may not agree.
This hostility to journalists on the basis of political partisanship not only fuels America’s growing political divide, it encourages Jarrod Ramos and others like him to cry ‘defamation’ and ‘fake news’ whenever there is media coverage with which they disagree. And this impacts not just the major news networks, but smaller outlets as well.
Like the Annapolis Capital Gazette, the majority of journalists and media outlets in this nation are local. Amongst these journalists there is no objective to push a political agenda, but rather a passion to report on the communities they live in. To cover the high school sports teams, the city councils, the local elections, the local crimes and the local heroes.
We at The Vista stand in solidarity with the journalists at the Capital Gazette. We stand in memory of those slain. We continue with the same determination as the Capital Gazette and the rest of our colleagues across the nation to report on regardless of cries of defamation and fake news.
Democracy is nothing without a free press and journalism not only serves the vital role of keeping Americans well-informed, but also in serving as a watchdog on behalf of the American public. Because, ultimately, journalism is our words, your voice.