I didn’t personally know anyone at the Capital Gazette. In a way, that was a surprise. We are a tight business, and we move around quite a bit. Thus, it wasn’t surprising to find out this evening through social media that there were only a couple degrees of separation.
But I knew every one of those people. I’ve worked with them for 25 years. We’ve shared highs and lows. Drinks and burgers. Marriages. Watched their children grow from newborns to adults. Divorces. Celebrated awards. Moved from apartments to houses. First jobs to retirement. Layoffs. Promotions. New opportunities. Some loved each other. Some hated each other. I know them. All across the world.
It sure did to me. I didn’t think about anything like this when I took my trash to the dump this morning. Or when I walked into the office today at 11:30, just in time to make a lunch meeting. But I did think about how easily this could have been any newspaper I have ever worked at. Where the community can feel free to walk in the front door and complain about a story. Or provide a tip. Or buy a single copy.
Or threaten us if we didn’t remove a story from our website.
I can’t say much more about them. I didn’t have the honor. I’ll let someone who knew them do so:
“There are no 40 hour weeks, no big paydays — just a passion for telling stories from our community. We keep doing more with less. We find ways to cover high school sports, breaking news, tax hikes, school budgets & local entertainment. We are there in times of tragedy. We do our best to share the stories of people, those who make our community better. Please understand, we do all this to serve our community.” — Jimmy DeButts, an editor at the Capital Gazette
Most people don’t get that. A surprising number to me, actually. I guess I’m odd, but there is nothing I prefer to do. In fact, everything else makes me miserable. There are times I want to look at everyone, take my toys and go home. But I can’t, because this is who I am. It’s difficult when the people I care about don’t get that, but so be it.
Which may be why I get so much joy out of this tweet:
'We are putting out a damn paper tomorrow': Capital Gazette journalists report on shooting in their own newsroom
You're damn right. That is the greatest tribute you can pay to these people. Because that is what we do.