Once again, the world has been shaken by a mass shooting, this one at the offices of the Capital Gazette, a small but venerated community newspaper serving Annapolis, Md. The alleged gunman had long borne grudges against the newspaper; by the time he was captured hiding under an office desk, five staffers of the publication lay dead.
This deranged attack hit home for journalists around the world. In smaller communities, the local newspaper is often the glue that holds the town together, and the Capital Gazette has filled that purpose for Annapolis since 1723.
Smaller newspapers also serve distinct communities, such as the Jewish press that provides newspapers to Jewish communities around the world.
The attack on the Capital Gazette was particularly painful for the St. Louis Jewish Light. At a time of rising anti-Semitism, all Jewish institutions, including newspapers, are vulnerable to attack.
Each of the five murdered staffers in Annapolis has a counterpart at any newspaper with small, in-house staffs: the grizzled veterans; the wise and wise-cracking editorial page editor; the young, idealistic intern; and the youthful ad salesperson.
True to the grit of their profession, the traumatized journalists were able to get out an edition the day after the shooting, with Page 1 coverage of the attack.
An editor explained the instinct this way: “It’s the only thing we knew how to do.”
If there is a precedent for an attack on a newsroom, it would be the 2015 shootings at the Paris-based satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which claimed 12 lives. In solidarity with the slain journalists, newspapers and cartoonists and supporters of free speech around the world adopted the slogan “Je Suis Charlie” – I am Charlie –which was devised by the French art director Joachim Roncin.
We express our deepest condolences to the Capital Gazette, and to the families and colleagues and friends of the murdered staffers. And in solidarity, we say, “Je Suis Capital Gazette.”