Lisa Craft: Yes, it could happen to us
Last week, the killings of five of our colleagues in Annapolis, Md., hit too close to home. In a small-town newspaper most of us say, “This can’t happen to us” — but it can, and it did.
A man with a grudge against the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis shot his way into the office and killed five employees before he was apprehended and arrested.
We grieve our colleagues’ deaths and honor them for their devotion and love of their jobs. And I respect the journalists and staff members of the Capital Gazette for picking themselves up and on Friday printing a “damn” paper.
They had to. It was their duty, their responsibility, and required out of respect for their fallen colleagues.
I have been in this business since August 1989. At that time, I don’t believe I had the fear of someone being angry enough to get their revenge with a gun. I did not have the fear of dying in the line of duty. We reported, had fun, loved getting out there and tracking the stories. We enjoyed taking the pictures and pleasing those when their stories, children and events were in the paper. Small-town community news is a family-like atmosphere both within the office and on the streets of the town.
From what I can remember when someone was upset with something we wrote, they would come in and talk with us or write us a letter. We would handle it the best way that we could, whether it would be with understanding, compassion or printing a retraction when something was incorrect.
It is our duty to inform the community as to what is going on in the area — good or bad. We do our best to get factual information and report accordingly. Not everyone agrees with what goes in print or online and in turn sometimes that upsets someone. The news is not always roses, and if it was, it wouldn’t be news.
Believe me when I say there have been a lot of times when something bad has happened and perhaps we missed it, and we would get those calls wondering why it had not been reported. Then when we have to report something bad, we get scrutinized. So, the news media is battered either way.
Getting responses from angry readers is a regular occurrence in this business. We field calls and answer e-mails from people demanding us to do something or to not do something. They threaten in many ways, and most of the time, what I have seen are those threatening lawsuits.
As we have seen over the years, times have changed. The way some handle anger is more escalated and ends in tragedy over and over. Our country has been hit hard with shootings in schools, churches, the workplace, outside events and drive-bys. At this point in our lives, exactly where is it safe? We have to work, we have to be educated, we want to worship, and we want to be able to enjoy ourselves at events or perhaps just take a quiet stroll in the evening.
I am very saddened at the continuing violence that we have to endure in our United States. We have it so very good in our country, but some are taking that goodness, respect and honor that many of us once had and exchanging it for revenge, violence, anger and abuse.
It is killing our country.
Like I said earlier, I have been doing this job since 1989, and love what I do. Journalists don’t do it for the money, we do it because we love giving the community the news.
We will not quit. We can’t. When you get journalism in your blood you can’t just throw up your arms and say, “I’m done.” You know you serve the people of your community, and they depend on you.
Don’t say “It couldn’t happen to us.” Sure it could, even in Monett or Cassville. I pray it does not and that we can continue to do what we love, which is to support our community, churches, people and schools and do our best to bring you factual information, entertain you and do our job for you.
We will continue to do our jobs, because we believe it is important for the community to have a local newspaper.
We thank the community for your support. We will continue to serve you, and trust that if we act transparently and ethically that the community will support their local newspaper.
We take this opportunity to respect and honor those that lost their lives on Thursday, June 28: Gerald Fischman, editorial page editor; Rob Hiaasen, editor; John McNamara, reporter; Rebecca Smith, sales assistant; and Wendi Winters, reporter.
Rest In Peace.
Lisa Craft is the general manager of the Cassville Democrat. She may be reached at 417-847-2610 or firstname.lastname@example.org