Newspaper paper shooting should remind us how important newspapers are

Yesterday’s murders of five employees of an Annapolis, Md., newspaper is shocking. But we all aren’t overly shocked because mass shootings have become a regular occurrence in our society. The shock, unfortunately, wears off.

The shooter allegedly is a man who felt he was dealt with unfairly in a column written about his harassment of a woman. As a result, he blasted his shotgun at the glass doors and took aim at newspaper employees, killing five.

When President Trump arrived back at the White House and walked off Marine One, reporters shouted asking him what he had to say. He’d already used his preferred communication method — Twitter — to send his prayers to the victims and families.

Personally, I think if he said nothing he would be criticized, as is happening. And if he said something he would have been labeled a hypocrite.

Me, I don’t care if he says anything further about the tragedy. I do hope he stops yelling “fake news” though. I don’t know and doubt if Trump’s “fake news” fed this shooter’s deranged mind or not. But I’m guessing not.

The shooting, though, should remind us all the important role newspapers play in our society.

Even as the shooting was taking place, a couple of newspaper employees were Tweeting about it — for help and to get out the word. Within 45 minutes of the suspect being taken into custody, there was a story up on the newspaper’s web site about it. In tribute, the next day’s paper had a blank editorial page in honor of the dead.

This is a small local paper. According to reports, it is a truly local paper that covers high school teams, courts, local politics and crime. Many similar organizations have closed because of lack of revenue. Many more will. But I hope we all stop for a second and think about what happened yesterday.

An angry man loaded his shotgun and blasted away in the newspaper’s offices because he was furious about a column written about him. A lawsuit filed by him was tossed out of court. And five innocent people died.

I’m sure the gun debate will rage, again. I’m sure nothing will happen, again.

And while I wish he wouldn’t, I’m sure within two weeks the President will be shouting “fake news” whenever he doesn’t like a story written about him. For Trump, the cry “fake news” is his way of shooting at one of our institutions.

This shooting is not about Donald Trump. In his defense someday the shooter’s lawyers may argue about the President’s stance on the “fake news” media and point to that as a way to justify their client’s actions. I hope not but won’t be shocked if they do. They’ll be wrong.

Today, though, think about what newspapers, local and national, do to keep you informed. Keep buying them. And pray they never stop keeping us informed.


Former deputy White House press secretary (Reagan and Bush 41) and former head of communications at Republican Natl Committee. My blog:

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