Like other newspapers, we paused at 2:33 p.m. Thursday to commemorate the attack on journalists a week earlier.
Five people died at The Capital newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, in the latest mass shooting to come across our news feeds and ding on our iPhones.
As I’m sure school shootings did for teachers, and the Las Vegas shooting did for people who frequent outdoor concerts, this one hit home for me and my co-workers. It especially hurt because we’ve all — every single one of us who’ve worked in this business — faced threats large and small from people we encounter.
Early in my career, I had a man show up at the front door to talk about a story I’d written on a bank robbery the prior weekend. He promised new information about this unsolved case. When I asked how he knew, he had a simple explanation: He was the one who did it.
(After his arrest, he told investigators he went to the newspaper because we got the color of his truck wrong in the description of the vehicle police gave us.)
The year before that, I covered a case where a man killed his three children and their pets, then himself, and recorded the whole thing on audiocassette. Something like a week before, he showed up at the front door of the newspaper, ready to talk to my city editor about his state of mind.
So yeah, we’ve all had close calls.
And that was in the “good ol’ days.”
Even Thursday, the day journalists paused for just a minute to remember five of their own, our president just couldn’t help himself at a campaign rally.
“Fake news. Bad people,” President Donald Trump told a crowd in Montana. Of course it got cheers.
Trump on media: "they are so damn dishonest."— Abby D. Phillip (@abbydphillip) July 5, 2018
"These are really bad people.
And he's still going. So there's your answer to the question of whether Trump's rhetoric would change after 5 journalists were gunned down in Annapolis.
Trump said it in response to questions being raised about his preparedness to meet one-on-one with Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Hey, he did such a great job convincing Kim Jong Un to dismantle his nukes, so why not?)
It’s legitimate for some pundits to suggest Trump is in over his head in dealing with Putin, just as it is for others to agree with him. Neither should merit a judgment call like that from the president about the character of the press corps, and the past calls to arm from Trump and his acolytes are dangerous.
Two days before the Annapolis shooting, Milo Yiannopoulos said he “can’t wait for the vigilante squads to start gunning journalists.”
Folks, journalists and other employees at The Covington News and most other news outlets like it are people who go to church with you, serve in civic clubs with you, eat in your restaurants, shop in your stores and have children and grandchildren in school with your children and grandchildren.
We feel duty-bound to tell the stories of our community, and the chips will fall where they may. It’s not about Trump or any other politician. In fact, the vast majority of us don’t have jobs that have anything to do with national politics, but Trump’s rhetoric doesn’t draw a distinction. It just encourages people to hate all of us.
That being said, I’ve been gratified by the outpouring of support in the days since The Capital shooting. Many friends have reached out to say they were thinking of us, and appreciate the job we do. It’s difficult under the best of circumstances, and the stress of seeing colleagues — even those we don’t know — gunned down by a disgruntled story subject sure didn’t help.
That said, we press on because we didn’t choose this job. It chose us.
David Clemons is the editor and publisher of The Covington News. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @scoopclemons.