My initial reaction to the Capital Gazette shootings on June 28, 2018 (before the shooter was identified): “Is this a ‘Charlie Hebdo-like’ attack on American soil?” Yesterday (July 2), I saw the video below and was shocked to hear what Jim Cavanaugh said about the shooter: he was posting tweets about Charlie Hebdo (4:14).
There were so many red flags that didn’t really stand out until after the shooting happened – he posted public tweets about his grudge against the Capital Gazette and filed a defamation lawsuit against them.
I don’t know how the shooter learned the layout of the Capital Gazette office, but the fact that he was able to barricade an escape door and waltz right into the building is astounding. Such careful and detailed planning.
(Don’t quote me on this next piece of information. I’m just trying to recall what I heard since I can’t find the information online (yet?).)
On a news channel, one of the Capital Gazette employees talked about how she and the other employees didn’t practice active shooter drills and were in the middle of loosely discussing how to protect themselves.
The truth is that news reporters and journalists can’t protect themselves. Even if they did practice active shooter drills, or locate their offices on the second/third/fourth/… floor of a building, crazy shooters can find a way to attack them.
In addition to figuring out how to protect themselves, reporters and journalists also cannot simply rely on “luck”. The Baltimore Sun reported that the outstanding police rescue for the Capital Gazette victims was the result of “luck” mixed with close proximity and teamwork.
Organizations such as the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) “defend the right of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal.” If you browse through CPJ’s website, you can see a lot of cool stuff like research findings and a security guide.
After witnessing the aftermath of the Capital Gazette incident, I know that, sadly, not all news writers think about how to defend themselves against domestic attacks and threats towards them.
It’s easy to say that reporters and journalists need protection. We can say the same thing for students. Remember the Santa Fe high school shootings? Or the Virginia Tech shootings? Or the Columbine high school shootings? A lot of discussions after those incidents are about mental health issues, gun laws, … because there’s not enough police officers to protect everyone.
I found this quote by former Pres. Obama, tweeted by David P. Gelles (CNN):
First of all, what happened in Annapolis seems to happen every few weeks, few months,” he said. “And I am heartbroken for the families, obviously, the news organization that was affected.”
He added: “And I am hopeful that each time one of these tragedies strikes, we remind ourselves that this is preventable. It is not inevitable, that America is not the only nation on earth that has people who are troubled or violent, but we are unique in the weapons that those people can deploy, and it is costly.”
I have no idea how news writers can get the protection they need from domestic attacks and threats. Despite having limited police officers, I strongly believe that the best way to protect news writers is to have guards either close by or surrounding their office buildings.
In a way, I guess news writers are like celebrities because their names and voices are out there in the public. Yet it’s really disappointing to know that they have less protection than celebrities in pop culture.