BALTIMORE– in the Middle of a devastating attack that killed five people at a historic Maryland newspaper, journalists at the paper took to social media to seek help and report about the fatal shooting.
In the immediate aftermath of the Thursday afternoon shooting, they identified that was safe and met the first waves of grief. They are also used social media to explain journalism to tell the truth mission, to try to demystify what journalists do in an era where they are often attacked as spreading “fake news.”
News of Thursday’s carnage began with a chilling tweet sent at 2:43 pm by a trainee at The Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland’s capital city. Anthony Messenger wrote: “Active shooter 888 Bestgate please help us.” In the midst of the chaos, the Messenger of the bearings to share in the newsroom address.
Later in the day, while he waited to be interviewed by the researchers, the Annapolis newspaper’s crime and courts reporter tweeted that a “single shooter shot several people at my office, some of whom have died.” The reporter, Phil Davis, it appeared that the gunman “shot through the glass door to the office.”
In a later tweet, Davis said that he heard the sound of the shooter to reload what authorities later said was a shotgun.
“Nothing is more terrifying than hearing multiple people shot while you’re under your desk and then hear the shooter reload,” Davis wrote.
Photojournalist Paul W. Gillespie, who was in the news when the attack began, wrote on Twitter that he was untouched physically, but was “a mess” mentally.
“Please pray for my colleagues who were not as lucky as I was. We lost some really great people today. I am in shock, the process of this terrible situation,” Gillespie tweeted.
In a time when journalists are often despised, the Capital Gazette editor Jimmy DeButts took to Twitter after the attack to inform the public that the newspaper’s employees are guided daily by a “passion for telling stories from our community.” They do work without any expectation of “big paydays,” he wrote.
In a series of tweets, DeButts tried to explain to hard-working journalists actually do, day after day.
“We try to expose corruption. We fight to get access to public records and bring to light the inner workings of the government, in spite of the great obstacles in the way,” he tweeted. “The journalists & editors their all in finding the truth. That is our mission.”
As investigators tried to piece together what happened, photojournalist Josh McKerrow shared his unwavering determination to keep The Capital Gazette publish for his Annapolis community, tweeting: “There will be a Capital Friday.”
Chase Cook, a reporter, was more blunt. He tweeted: “I can tell you this: We put a damn paper tomorrow.”
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