In memoriam: Honoring The Capital victims by practicing freedom of the press


This is America

Bailey Vandiver

This is America.

In America, Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of the press. 
Because of this, I used to read stories about journalists imprisoned, disappeared or killed in other countries and think, “Thank goodness this is America.” 
I’m currently across the ocean from America, studying abroad in Ireland. For my class, I was assigned an Irish journalist to study: Veronica Guerin. Guerin was murdered in 1996 by drug lords who wanted to stop her reporting about their activities. I read about her and thought, “Thank goodness I’ll be a journalist in America.” 
After the events in Annapolis, Maryland, yesterday, I can’t think that anymore— at least not right now.
Five journalists were cruelly and senselessly murdered at the place where they simply did their jobs— a job that is important, difficult and, unfortunately, dangerous. 
The Associated Press reported that an anonymous police officer named the shooter as a man who had previously filed a defamation lawsuit against the newspaper because it reported on his criminal harassment conviction. This story rings familiar after studying about Guerin. 
The Capital staff is obviously heartbroken, and as a proud student journalist and future professional journalist, I am heartbroken as well. I am heartbroken for the families and coworkers of the deceased victims, for the victims who will have wounds and scars to remember this by, and for the continuous assault on journalism in this nation. 
But I am also inspired. I am inspired because The Capital Gazette still put out a newspaper today, while in mourning for members of its staff. I am inspired to hug my Kernel coworkers a little tighter and pray for the safety of journalists in our country. 
Most of all, I am inspired to honor the memories of Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith, and Wendi Winters by continuing our relentless pursuit of the truth. 
Because this is America, and America needs her press.