Journalism’s darkest day: ‘You cannot stop us’

Josh Briggs
Managing Editor

In my short 30 years of life, there have been few events that made me associate the phrase, “That hits close to home.”

But the murders that took place Thursday afternoon in Annapolis, Maryland, were different.

It didn’t just hit close to home — it knocked on the front door and let itself in.

The actions of a deranged 33-year-old man wielding a shotgun once he entered the Capital Gazette newspaper are chilling for someone that gives 110 percent to this profession.

For someone that understands the exact same thing could take place here in small-town Arkansas.

Over a grudge held against the publication since 2011, five hardworking individuals lost their lives while at their place of employment — none of which were involved in the initial issues.

Five journalists who refused to be forced into a corner because of a negative story; who refused to be stepped on for telling the truth; who made people cry with the power of their words in a feature story and who voiced their opinions in black and white.

Those five journalists were cut down for doing something they loved. For doing something that is protected by the U.S. Constitution.

Lives cut short at the hands of a maniac with an agenda who was unhappy about the truth being told about him in print.

The fact of the matter is, this is something any newspaper across the globe could endure.

It puts new meaning to the words, “Truth hurts.”

Does it ever.

Despite the events of Thursday, the Gazette continued to do its job — reporting the truth — except it was first-hand this time.

Reporters and other staff members giving grizzly details of the gunman and how he trapsed through the editorial department shooting people at point-blank range.

And about how law enforcement arrived within one minute to apprehend the suspect — ALIVE.

Some told of how they leaped over co-workers believed to be dead as they ran for safety.

At the end of the day, the Gazette was still on the press. It was still giving its community — and the world — the news. It was still doing its job.

Kyle Feldscher took to Twitter with the following:

“The Times-Picayune kept working while Hurricane Katrina destroyed their homes.
“WDBJ didn’t stop working when two of its reporters were murdered on air.
“KHOU 11 kept filming as their offices flooded during Harvey.
“The Capital Gazette will put out a paper tonight
“You cannot stop us.”

The fact that people believe they can stop the media from doing its job only fuels the fire of journalists to continue their work.

This profession is not for the weak.

Feelings get hurt. Hearts get broken, but the fact of the matter is there is a job to do and no circumstance is going to keep us from doing what we know is right.

Myself and the staff at The Saline Courier pride ourselves on being trustworthy journalists and give every ounce of our being when writing.

We are not here to rip families apart, but when the news presents itself, we will have it in black and white.

The good, bad and ugly, we will get it.

We are not highly paid. We do not enjoy a simple 40-hour per week job.

We often feel there is no light at the other end. We often go home depressed at the thought of certain stories.

The deaths.

The crimes.

The people only wishing to inflict harm on others.

We deal with it all.

No, we don’t enjoy reporting on a homicide, fatal accident or an abusive father, but it’s our job.

No matter what happens, journalists will be giving it their all to make sure the people are informed.

No one can stop us. No one.
Josh Briggs is the managing editor of The Saline Courier. He is a lifelong Saline County resident, graduating from Harmony Grove High School in 2006.