As you might expect, we at Ulster Publishing reacted with shock and sadness at the shooting at the newspaper office in Maryland which killed five people who do for Anne Arundel County pretty much the same thing we do for Ulster County.
While many wanted to blame President Trump, who had just called journalists “an enemy of the people,” or something like that, just before the shooting, the fact is that the assailant was a man who had a long-standing grudge against the paper for a story it wrote about him. A story this paper would have written about this guy, if this guy had been in Kingston.
Anyway, I can’t do better in describing what we do, why we do it and why it’s important than Michael David Smith, managing editor of Pro Football Talk, who posted the following on Twitter shortly after the shooting:
“The people who work in newsrooms like the Capital Gazette do hard work for low pay because they love their communities. They’re reporters who sit through long and boring zoning meetings because whether a new development gets approved can make a huge difference for a neighborhood.
“They’re photographers who make a high school volleyball player’s day by capturing the moment she spiked the ball, and putting that moment in the newspaper for her grandma to clip and save for a family memento that will last a lifetime.
“They’re editors who get cranky about some seemingly arcane point of grammar because the English language still matters to them, and they find beauty in communicating cleanly, clearly and concisely. (Truth: I am still internally wrestling with whether “kryptonite” — from the endorsement of Dave Clegg two weeks ago — should have gotten a capital “k” or not.)
“They’re feature writers who profile the teacher who spent a half-century in the community and retired having influenced more lives than any pop star on a magazine cover.
“They’re investigative journalists who let you know where your property tax bill is really going, and who hold politicians’ feet to the fire when they waste your hard-earned money.
“The people who work in newsrooms like the Capital Gazette are some of the finest people in our country. An attack on them is an attack on everything that truly makes America great.”
I will add this. We are awash in guns and seriously deficient in mental health care in this country. For any number of reasons linked to words written on parchment 200-plus years ago, I do not expect the former to change. Changing the latter will be really, really hard, as it means allocating money to help the weak and disadvantaged among us. That’s never been all that popular in our history and has rarely been more controversial than it is today. But as impossible as it seems, that’s apparently our only remedy for mass shootings. Let’s hope one day soon, it becomes a real priority at every level of government, including right here at home.