Don’t shoot the messenger
For years I’ve often quietly used the phrase, “Don’t shoot the messenger,” when disgruntled readers have voiced their frustration over something that has been published they didn’t want to see.
The familiar phrase is used to describe the act of blaming the bearer of bad news. As journalists we often find ourselves in situations where we’re reporting news that others may not care to see. However, it’s our responsibility to report the good along with the bad and yes, at times even the ugly.
Sadly, last week a newspaper in Maryland found itself on the side of a crazed man who came to literally shoot the messengers in an extreme act of violence.
A lone gunman marched into a newsroom at a newspaper in Annapolis, setting off an avalanche of gunfire that killed five journalists. It was the deadliest day for journalists since 9/11. Our hearts are filled with great sadness and sorrow for those lives lost once again during yet another mass shooting in our country.
The gunman was arrested a short time later without incident. It turns out he had an ax to grind with the newspaper over his unsuccessful defamation lawsuit in 2012. The newspaper had written a story about how he had harassed a woman in an effort to warn readers of the dangers of sharing personal details with people online.
I can’t imagine the terror that the Maryland journalists faced last week when the gunman opened fire throughout the newsroom. Survivors thought they were going to die. Lives have been shattered forever.
Our hearts go out to the families of the victims of the attack.
The mass shooting has once again put everyone on edge.
On the day after the shooting, the newspaper published a haunting and heartbreaking opinion page. “Today, we are speechless,” the newspaper wrote. “This page is intentionally left blank to commemorate victims of Thursday’s shootings at our office.”
Over the years we have found ourselves on the side of having angry readers over publishing facts they didn’t seem to think should be. As you can imagine, it’s an uncomfortable position to be in. I’ve had some readers march into the office yelling and screaming at us about something we’ve printed, though it has only happened a few times. It usually happens with the so-called “breaking news” we print.
It seems people are angry with us many times. It’s kind of the nature of the job. The truth hurts.
We’re fake. We’re biased. We get criticized. We don’t know English. We missed a comma here and there. We need to get our facts straight. And now it seems we die sharing the truth to others.
Despite the criticism we get about different stories, it is hard for me to fathom that journalists would be a target of violence.
Our primary goal is to inform the public. We take the First Amendment seriously to keep the public abreast of what’s happening in the world. We are hard working at providing you with the news important to your lives.
In our quest for the truth, it doesn’t help to be forced to worry about random nuts hell bent on slaughtering journalists. For the most part, our lives are not in constant danger while reporting.
Be assured we will continue to go in hot pursuit of reporting the news for the betterment of our communities.