Ask a journalist why they’re in this field and you might be surprised by their answer.
Riches, fame, power and glory are motivating factors for other professions; they’re far from what drives a journalist to hop in the car and steer into harm’s way.
An innate, instinctual passion to craft a story to an audience provides some of the adrenaline that makes a journalist go.
But the true power behind a journalists’ pen lies in our ability, and our duty, to uphold the values that make our Republic what it is today.
The chance to regularly exercise freedom of the press, a key tenet of the First Amendment and our right to free speech, pushes us as journalists to work as hard as we can to craft a fair, but factual piece to our readers.
All of this makes Thursday’s tragic and heinous mass shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Maryland such a gut punch . It felt as if our profession, which has already been the punching bag for our current executive administration, is now quite literally under attack.
The actions of the terrorist, who will not be named, underscores every journalist’s worst fears come true.
How the subject of a story can be emboldened enough to act upon their frustration with the media, with deadly results.
According to reports, the shooter’s motive seems to have derived from a longstanding feud over a story that ran several years ago.
Sadly enough, such issues are not uncommon for journalists to experience. At some point in our careers, every journalist will encounter a reader who is frustrated, angry, mad or upset. Those frustrations can range from the content of a piece, to the way the story is written.
In some cases, journalists can and do receive death threats based on what we’re doing.
Through it all, we journalists take it all in stride. Amid the cynicism and anger directed at our feet, journalists solider on with skin as thick as an alligator.
But we also don’t expect retaliation to take place, either. That’s why Thursday’s event invokes a new awareness in our profession.
That’s not to say we’ll start the process of pat-downs when someone walks into the Hays Free Press office. We welcome all those who wish to visit us in downtown Kyle and are happy to have a friendly debate, should we have the time to do so.
But we also can’t ignore the fact that there are those who wish harm against us. It’s seemingly part of an increasingly vitriolic tone against the press, which has been spearheaded by our current Commander in Chief.
To be clear, the shooter’s motive doesn’t seem to derive from the anti-media rhetoric that’s been cast over the past few months. However, it doesn’t do much to dispel fears people are viewing the media as an “enemy of the people,” as our President once said.
It’s a viewpoint that can’t be further from the truth. Journalists, and the media in general, are not the enemy.
Are we perfect? No, we’re not. We are human and we make mistakes. But we also do try to make up for them, and rectify them as much as possible.
Rather, we are the beacon that keeps the flame of democracy going. We are the checks and balances that keeps our governments in line and away from malfeasance.
We serve the governed and not the governors. Always.
I’d be lying if I said Thursday’s shooting didn’t usher some semblance of concern. However, one must believe it won’t keep us from fighting the good fight, to keep asking the tough questions, to keep giving answers to the public.
And perhaps most importantly, enact change when it is necessary.
This terrorist’s actions were meant to intimidate. They were meant to invoke fear.
Instead, it’s rallied a cause that’s far greater than anyone can imagine.
We at the Hays Free Press are unafraid. We in the media are unrelenting.
We will persevere. We will rise above.
We. Will. Win.