There really are no words.
Two days after a gunman opened fire on our journalism colleagues at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md., killing five and injuring others, we are wiping away tears even as we clinch our fists, and we are repeating words we have said far too often in the last decade — when will this madness end?
We’ve repeated the whys and the whens over and over as tragedy after tragedy has unfolded — in our schools, on our military bases, on our university campuses, at entertainment venues and now in our newsrooms.
We can call for yet another ban on assault rifles; we can plead for mental health resources to be restored to states to help treat the countless emotional issues that plague a society which, on its whole, is void of faith, losing its sense of humility and rapidly become a people using violence to curb its anger; and we can pray for common sense to return to a nation which is fast losing its moral compass.
But we aren’t sure where the solution truly lies.
All we really know is we have returned again to writing yet another editorial about the senseless loss of life, this time to hard-working journalists working in an open office environment, doing what they do best — telling the stories of their community, exposing corruption, reporting on ball games and tax hikes, high school events and business anniversaries, just like we do every day.
To the Capital staff’s credit, the shooting, which is now believed to have been a targeted one, the gunman did not silence their collective voice. Impressively, the small community paper managed to post news about the shooting and a video about the rampage within a few hours of the incident, relying on sister paper, The Baltimore Sun, for the story. And remarkably and in the true style of journalists who understand that the news must go out — a paper was published that night and on the streets Friday.
While the nation, following in the footsteps of our president, often takes a dim view of the media, shouting fake news every single time something appears on television or in the newspapers that people don’t agree with or like, the truth is hard-working journalists, just like those who go to church with you, eat in your restaurants and frequent your businesses, are public servants, doing their best for the communities in which they live.
That is what those at the Capital Gazette were doing Thursday afternoon when a gun-wielding, hate-filled man opened fire with intent to kill.
Tweets from Jimmy DeButts, the Capital’s community news editor and columnist, right after the shooting probably sum it up best.
“Devastated & heartbroken. Numb … just know @capgaznews reporters & editors give all they have every day. 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 & 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 all this to serve our community … The reporters & editors put their all into finding the truth. That is our mission. Will always be.”
For five of the Capital’s staff, their mission ended tragically Thursday. Our hearts go out to their families; we stand with the remainder of the staff; and we pray first for all of them and then for all of us, seeking God’s deliverance from the evil that has cast such a long shadow over a great country.