Generally speaking, reports of another mass murder in the United States pass through our newsroom in fairly routine fashion: make sure an article has been posted to the website and to social media, a little discussion among the staff regarding gun control, and watch for updates. Just another day in a typical newsroom.
The shootings in Maryland were different, for us.
They hit extremely close to home.
For many of us working in the industry, the shock of the incident gave us pause for thought. Could this happen to us?
The natural reaction is “no. We have gun control.”
But the reality is, yes, it could happen.
(We won’t soon forget the Charlie Hebdo attack in France – another country with gun control.)
Working in the media is a fulfilling career, but it does come with a certain amount of danger.
An old industry adage goes something to the effect of “any article written that no one disgrees with is nothing more than a PR piece.”
As a community newspaper, we run a lot of said PR (public relations) pieces, but we also have a responsibility to write the news. Often, that involves reporting things some people would rather the public not read.
The North Island is no different than any other community in that regard. We get threats by phone, online, and sometimes even in person.
We have open files with the RCMP on individual residents within our community. It’s a protective measure we have to take. And it’s turned exponentially worse with the advent of social media.
That said, no one in our industry ever anticipates they will be writing a “stop the presses” type of breaking news story about themselves. Contrary to careers with obvious dangers (i.e. police, firefighters) when we kiss our spouses good-bye in the morning, they aren’t likely to ever give it a second thought. But the danger, however underlying it may be, is still there.
Our sincere condolences go out to all those who were directly affected by the tragedy in Maryland. Hopefully none of our Canadian peers ever have to experience such a nightmare.