Thursday, July 19, 2018

Murder at a Maryland Newspaper

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and reading about on my computer. A gunman had killed five staff members at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis.

It wasn’t long before we were hearing about the dead, average men and women who were only doing their job that day as usual. I didn’t know any of them, but I cried for their families, their community and the loss to the newspaper world.

The murdered included Girl Scout leader and mother of four, Wendi Winters, 65, who kept the community informed with columns such as Teen of the Week and Home of the Week.

Gerald Fischman, 61, editorial writers who had been at the paper for 25 years and had worked at the Carroll County Times during the 1980s,

John McNanamara, 56, who had written two books on the university of Maryland during his 20 years at the Gazette. A graduate of UM he also loved to write about the university’s sports.

Rob Hiaasen, 59, assistant editor and features columnist. An article in the July 16 issue of People magazine mentioned that Hiaasen’s wife was celebrating her 58th birthday. She was waiting for him to come home before opening the present he had left for her. Now he would never come home again.

The youngest, Rebecca Smith, 34, was just hired last fall as a sales assistant and was engaged to be married. Little details like this that help us see these are just average people.

Each with their own story, each with a future that was cut short because of a man who hated and saw nothing wrong with taking a weapon and killing whoever he met, at what he considered his enemy, the community newspaper.

News media is our lifeline to what is happening in our world, letting us know things we need to know. Especially community newspapers, who not only let you know if your zoning may be changed, your taxes raised or your school closed (before these things happen so maybe you can do something).  They also run articles on fundraisers for charities, sports groups, medical emergencies, veteran programs, fairs, carnivals and other local events. They cover the graduations, the plays and the games of our children.

I had worked on my high school newspaper and went to work for the Carroll County Times soon after graduation. Since then I have written for other newspapers in Carroll and Alleghany counties and still write articles for non-profit groups.
I’ve always thought of journalism as an honorable profession with such writers as Mark Twain, Rudyard Kipling, Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Hardy, Edgar Allen Poe, Ken Follet, and even Winston Churchill.

Newspapers have been part of American life since before we became a country. Benjamin Franklin, a writer and a newspaper printer, was one of the leaders of American democracy. The Annapolis newspaper reportedly had been published since 1727.

A small way for to help something good come from this tragedy, go to

Donations to the Capital Gazette Families Fund will provide help for the families, victims and survivors of the mass shooting. Also, a Capital Gazette Memorial Scholarship Fund was created to provide an annual award for select students pursuing a degree in Journalism at the University of Maryland, College Park.

I am proud to have been a journalist and hope young people today continue to want to report the truth to the American people, whether through the written word, radio, television, computers or whatever else might be in our future.