Tribute to the Annapolis Journalists

Notes from the editor-

This one is really special to me, as someone who wanted to be a journalist for many years, this story is something I simply can’t get over. I hope this tribute does them justice…

On June 28th2018, another mass shooting occurred, this time in Annapolis, Maryland, at The Capital Gazette. 4 journalists and a sales associate were the fatal victims, with many more injured from shotgun blasts. While we know why the shooter decided on this business as his target, many of us don’t understand the magnitude of an attack on what manyAmericans deem “The Fourth Estate.”The United States of America has threemain branches of government: executive, judicial, and legislative. However, freedom of press is such a monumental pillar in our democracy, that we consider the free-press the fourth estate, meaning, the fourth branch of government, set up to observe the government’s workings and report to the public on what is happening. No matter the size, the free press is there to inform readers about all sorts of things, at all levels of American life. From editorials, breaking news, investigative journalism, and even “fluff” pieces, journalism is a facet of our life that allows news to reach people across all walks of life, socioeconomically, racially, politically, etc., and one doesn’t even have to be literate to obtain the news.

When there is an attack on the Fourth Estate, make no mistake, it is an attack on all Americans, people who hold American values as their own,and our very way of life. When journalists are gunned down because of their freedom to publish, all Americans should take that as a personal attack on themselves. However, it’s inaccurate to attribute recent attacks on the press to the current Presidential administration. The Press has been attacked and condemned for years and years and the shooting at The Capital Gazette is just another installation of this madness. As a writer, I am shocked and dismayed at this administration’s constant berating of free-press in general, and the deaths of these four journalists and one sales associate (who was constantly trying to bring more people the news) have seemingly fallen by the way-side in the last few weeks and have even been called “understandable.”

These fallen journalists deserve better than that; they were brothers, mothers, sisters, sons, daughters, friends, loving people. When their lost lives are shrugged off this fast, we’re all ina lot oftrouble. None of these people deserved to be killed, torn from their right to life because of someone’s hate towards them. They deserve to be remembered for their accomplishments and contributions to the American way of life.Throughthe death of these people, we lost something that is more than just human life, what was lost was theirright to journalistic freedom. Because of an individual’s hatred, these journalists’ inalienable rights were torn down in a fire-storm of rage.We need to mourn these deaths as more than just the loss of life, because although that is heart-breaking and wrong, what happened to these commentators was an effective stripping of their First Amendment rights. This action against these people was not only murderous, but unconstitutional.

As people who share American values, I beg you, stand up for the freedom of press, it’s our First Amendment Right, and it’s our legacy to keep democracy alive and strong for the sake of our citizen’s livelihoods. Without the press, we wouldn’t have the amount of transparency that we do in our lives, and we are now able to get stories from all over the country and world at the click of our finger tips. When the death of multiple people just doing their jobs occurs,especially when those jobs uphold core Americanvalues,we need to stand up and say, Enough! We will not allow these things to happen without a fight, and we will certainly refuse to stay silent when we have any part of our government discounting our rights as if they are mere privileges. Our constitutional rights are being mocked when things like this happen, and we cannot allow this. I implore you all, next time you see a journalist, whether they are a student, or a professional, thank them for the work they do, and tell them that what they are doing is amazingand much needed in a world that is more chaotic than we all thought it could become.

And to the families of Robert Hiaasen, Wendi Winters, Rebecca Smith, Gerald Fischman, and John McNamara, I am so truly sorry your loved ones lost their lives, but they will not be forgotten. They died doing what they loved; bringing the news to the Annapolis area, and brightening the lives of the many people around them. I hope you all keep your hearts close to one another for support, but know that even this blog editor, in the middle of Denver, Colorado, is thinking about each and every one of you, and the pain you are going through. I am not the only one mourning them, rest assured. You are not alone in this.

 

-Aubrey Baucum

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