If you don’t have thick skin and a dark sense of humor, your ability to survive in the news business is greatly diminished. Apparently, we’ll have to add a bullet-proof vest to that survival list in order to do our job.
The rampage Thursday at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, that killed five people – editors, columnists, a reporter, and a sales person – was a direct result of them doing their job. The exact motives for the alleged gunman Jarrod Ramos are still unclear but he went locked and loaded and ready to shoot to kill journalists at the paper because they were journalists at the paper. Police found him hiding under a desk after the shooting spree, his fingers mutilated to avoid identification. But investigators were able to learn his identity through facial recognition.
No one knows exactly why Ramos chose Thursday to launch his assault on the Gazette. He had a years-long feud with the paper after he unsuccessfully sued them for running a column about harassment and abuse charges against him. His social media pages were rampant with ominous and thinly veiled threats against the paper.
But what pushed him to pull the trigger is still to be determined. Some have found old Twitter posts by Ramos referencing then-candidate Donald Trump.
Fox News host and Trump confidant Sean Hannity blamed US Rep. Maxine Waters for creating the atmosphere with her call to publicly harass supporters and officials in the Trump administration. But while some on social media and in legacy media elsewhere pointed to Trump’s villainization of the media as a contributing factor, there’s no proof that either had anything to do with it. But it certainly doesn’t help. With the heightened awareness of growing animosity toward the media, police around the country including here in Boston increased their visibility around media offices following the Gazette shooting.
As someone said on Twitter, we may figuratively cut each other’s throat for a scoop, but if you attack one of us, you attack all of us. All one has to do is look back at the assault on the offices of the satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo in 2015. Je suis Charlie.
It’s not “fake news” that columnist and editor Rob Hiaasen, editorial page editor Gerald Fischman, reporter John McNamara, features columnist Wendi Winters, and sales associate Rebecca Smith were killed because they worked at a newspaper. They died from very real bullets.
Threats and anger are part and parcel of being a reporter and editor. The Boston Globe’s Spotlight team was threatened by James “Whitey” Bulger when they were doing their expose on his relationship with the FBI. Bulger bragged about firing bullets into the Morrissey Boulevard office during the school busing crisis in the 70s.
About 20 years ago, when I was an investigative and enterprise reporter at the Boston Herald, I received a number of anonymous threats by phone and mail while doing a series of stories on Teamsters shaking down movie producers filming in Massachusetts. When my wife was helping her sister move during that time, the union movers learned who she was married to and told her ominously “he better watch his back.” It frightened her.
What did I do? My job. And kept doing my job because those types of threats never – not even rarely, but never – came to fruition. They were easy to laugh off. It was empty talk from angry people whose livelihoods were threatened. We understand that but it doesn’t prevent us from doing our jobs.
The same thing happened Friday morning in Annapolis. The small paper put out the day’s edition. Why? “I don’t know what else to do except this,” Capital Gazette reporter Chase Cook said while covering the story of his co-workers being shot and killed.
Gov. Charlie Baker signed the “grand bargain” without the grand bargainers being present. (Boston Globe) Keller@Large says even with those absences, the legislation is a grand example of how compromise is supposed to work.
Boston city councilors are considering charging for resident parking stickers and limiting the number given out in an effort to fix what they say is a “broken” neighborhood parking system. (Boston Herald)
Baker announced nearly $1 million in grants to 33 cities and towns to buy the overdose-reversing drug Narcan. (The Enterprise)
Bristol Sheriff Thomas Hodgson sent a letter to Attorney General Maura Healey saying her call for a probe of him and his jails has prejudiced several inmates’ suits against him. (Standard-Times)
Boston Police Commissioner William Evans is reportedly stepping down to take over the Boston College police force. (CBS Boston)
Rockland’s town counsel said the town accountant was placed on leave by the acting town administrator and not by selectmen who held an unannounced executive session Saturday have not revealed the reason. (Patriot Ledger)
A Worcester police officer drew his gun on a 16-year-old girl who was wielding a knife during a chaotic brawl on Pleasant Street Tuesday. (Telegram and Gazette)
Holyoke city councilors rejected the purchase of the Mater Dolorosa Church, saying there were too many restrictions and too much liability put on the city by the Springfield diocese. (The Republican)
Ever wonder where the 50 tiniest towns on Massachusetts are? Here you go. Spoiler alert’: Gosnold, with 77 year-round residents on the island, is the smallest. (Mass Live)
The White House launched a subtle — and sometimes not so subtle — lobbying effort on Justice Anthony Kennedy to convince him to step down before the midterm elections. (New York Times)
House Republicans voted to give the Justice Department seven days to turn over documents GOP members requested in the Russia election meddling investigation. (New York Times)
A new WBUR poll done by MassINC Polling Group finds Gov. Charlie Baker with a still-commanding lead in the gubernatorial race including strong favorability among Democrats. State Rep. Geoff Diehl is the frontrunner for the GOP Senate nomination but 41 percent of Republican voters are still undecided. (WBUR)
The Senate overwhelmingly passed a sweeping farm bill, setting up a showdown with the House over food stamps, farm subsidies, and conservation funding. (Washington Post)
Amazon outbid Walmart for the online pharmacy PillPack, paying $1 billion for the Somerville-based company. (Wall Street Journal)
Shares prices of BJ’s Wholesale Club soared in the first day of trading after the Westborough-based company’s return to public offering after seven years of being privately held. (Associated Press)
The Supreme Court’s decision to stop unions from forcing public employees to join and pay dues will not necessarily translate to lower labor costs for state government. (Governing)
New Boston interim School Superintendent Laura Perille says the mayor and School Committee have given her broad authority to implement changes and not just be a caretaker until a permanent successor to Tommy Chang is named. (Boston Globe)
Lawmakers want to know why Mount Ida College officials walked away from merger talks with Lasell College before agreeing to a deal with UMass. (Boston Herald)
Keri Rodrigues, writing at Edumom, savages Jessica Tang and Jeremy Aponte of the Boston Teachers Union for their op-ed in CommonWealth arguing that charters should not be allowed to take over in Puerto Rico.
The Gloucester School Committee cut some programs and staff, including the high school’s assistant principal, to close a budget gap. (Gloucester Times)
A new study on pediatric cancer from the Centers for Disease Control shows the highest rate of cases occur in the Northeast, with New Hampshire at the top with the most incidents per 1 million people and Massachusetts ranking 11th in the country. (U.S. News & World Report)
Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack is bringing in “fresh eyes” to review plans for a massive highway and transit project in the Allston-Brighton area. (CommonWealth)
Most of the projected revenue growth from an increase in parking fees would come from just a handful of MBTA garages, making any plans to reduce some of the hikes difficult. (CommonWealth)
Sandwich officials are upset the state cut down a canopy of cedar trees along Route 6A without their knowledge or permission after an engineer on a waterline project noticed some of the trees were causing sparks when they came in contact with power lines. (Cape Cod Times)
A Leicester medical marijuana dispensary could become the first licensed retail outlet for recreational pot, though it would still be weeks, if not a month or more, away from opening. (State House News Service)
A Lowell Sun editorial says the decision by the attorney general’s office to allow Mansfield to extend its moratorium on retail pot stores and open the door for other communities as well is a necessary action to ensure an orderly rollout of legal marijuana sales.
Federal officials unsealed a scathing report about exorbitant overbilling by attorneys in class action suits and put a damning spotlight on the Boston-based Thornton Law Firm and its managing partner, former state representative Garrett Bradley. (Boston Globe)
Four Westport residents, including the stepson of a mobster wanted for murder whose body was found buried in his ex-wife’s backyard in Dartmouth last year, were indicted for operating a multi-million gambling ring and money laundering. (Herald News)