Two assignments for Capital Gazette journalists: healing and reporting
The surviving staff members of the Capital Gazette gathered on Friday to figure out what to do now.
Against all odds, the paper still came out on Friday, hours after a man gunned down five employees in Annapolis, Maryland.
The coming days are likely to be even more difficult, several staff members told CNN. Some of the adrenaline has worn off. But the grieving process has just begun, and the deadlines just keep coming.
The Capital is a seven-day-a-week paper. The paper’s parent company, The Baltimore Sun, took the lead on Saturday’s edition, which included four full pages covering the shooting aftermath.
The lead headline: “Suspect swore ‘oath’ to kill.” The subheadline and photo featured at Friday night’s community vigil, which drew hundreds of people to Main Street in Annapolis.
Several Capital Gazette reporters spoke at the vigil, including crime reporter Phil Davis, who survived the attack by crouching under a desk.
With his arm around Rachael Pacella, one of the staffers who was injured, Davis read the names of the five people were killed. “We are not going to forget them. We don’t want other people to forget them. They are the story,” he said.
The paper’s editor in chief Rick Hutzell joined the reporters.
According to the Sun, reporter Pat Furgurson stood before the crowd and alluded to growing hostility toward the news media.
“We are not the enemy. We are you,” he said.
Earlier in the day, some staff met in person, and others joined via conference call, to discuss next steps for the paper.
Step one: Finding workspace. The gunshot-riddled office is inoperable. But the paper has help. It is part of The Baltimore Sun Media Group, which is owned by Tronc, so the staff is working from the offices of the Sun on Friday, a Tronc spokesman confirmed.
Counselors and other support services were on hand at the Sun.
The recovery effort is being led by Hutzell. He was on vacation when the shooting took place, so he rushed back to Annapolis on Thursday afternoon.
“From the first moment, he was determined to publish this morning,” columnist Terry Smith said on “New Day.”
Hutzell was quoted in Friday’s edition saying “we are heartbroken, devastated. Our colleagues and friends are gone.”
Baltimore Sun Media Group publisher Trif Alatzas and other executives are also deeply involved. Some Tronc executives flew to Maryland to help.
There’s already talk about finding new office space in Annapolis for the newspaper.
The Sun handles production and other back-end functions for Capital Gazette. After the attack, the Sun replicated its breaking news story on the Capital Gazette’s website and relayed information from Davis.
Staffers who weren’t at the office raced to the scene. Furgurson, Chase Cook, and Josh McKerrow worked on the next day’s paper from the back of a pickup truck in a nearby parking garage.
“We covered the press conferences and worked alongside our colleagues at The Baltimore Sun to confirm what we heard,” Cook told CNN.
That cooperative spirit is expected to continue in the days ahead.
Saturday’s paper relied heavily on the Sun’s reporting staff. Other newsrooms from across the country — from New York to Houston and beyond — sent food, flowers and offers of assistance.
“We received more food from more newsrooms today than the @baltimoresun @capgaznews and all other @BaltSunMedia folks could ever eat. And it filled our hearts more than our bellies. Thanks to all,” Sun reporter Scott Dance tweeted.
One of the five victims of the attack was editorial page editor Gerald Fischman. Friday’s opinion page was left blank in commemoration of the victims.
A small message on the page read, “Tomorrow this page will return to its steady purpose of offering our readers informed opinions about the world around them, that they might be better citizens.”
Saturday’s Opinion page still included Fischman’s name at the top of the page. “Gerald Fischman (1956-2018),” it read. The page was filled with letters from readers, a poem by the Annapolis poet laureate, and a column titled “We are all The Capital.”
“Stand up for a strong Annapolis and for our community newspaper,” columnist John W. Van de Kamp wrote. “Grieve for the dead and hold up their families.”
Read our latest “Reliable Sources” newsletter: “The newsroom shooter exploited journalism’s open doors”