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story.lead_photo.caption MARK HUMPHREY GAME JOURNAL

The murder of five employees in the newsroom of the Capital Gazette newspaper at Annapolis, Md., Thursday illustrates the hatred some Americans harbor toward "Freedom of the Press."

The suspect taken into custody at the scene, Jarrod Ramos, 38, of Laurel, Md., reportedly fired through a glass door, looked for victims and then sprayed gunfire around the newsroom.

Four journalists, Wendi Winters, 65, Gerald Fischman, 61, Rob Hiaasen, 59, John McNamara, 56; and Rebecca Smith, 34, a sales representative died doing their jobs in the attack.

This was a citizen attacking "Freedom of the Press" apparently motivated because he didn't like his social media activities reported in the newspaper.

While such a motive is relatively new with the expanse of technology, thankfully, most of the attacks against "Freedom of the Press" don't involve firearms, and most involve public officials.

Many Americans, particularly some in positions of authority, are not exactly enamored with the First Amendment Freedom of the Press because the press may serve to hold them accountable.

The language recently used by Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, of California, "Tell them they're not welcome anymore, anywhere," gives reporters insight into what Jackie Robinson must have felt during his rookie season with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

For reporters, that comes with the territory. Not everybody is going to be glad you're there.

One of the most blatant examples I remember was from the 1990s. A high school principal in Montana was teaching a Biology class. He was kidnapping neighborhood cats, imprisoning them in a device which he would attach to the exhaust pipe of a vehicle, kill them; then have students dissect the dead cats in his class. Pets were vanishing and their owners were angry.

When the editor of the local weekly newspaper, one of my colleagues, a young lady from Texas in her first journalism job, broke the story and published an editorial denouncing the principal's activities, a strange thing happened. Instead of holding the principal accountable, many employees of the school district rallied around him and blamed the press for their problems.

They attacked the character of the editor and created a hostile working environment within the community. They let the editor know she wasn't welcome at the high school or at school board meetings that were part of her beat. They didn't even want her taking photos at basketball games.

The editor eventually worked her way back to Texas. Today, she is married with children, described by peers as a "detail-oriented, responsible, conscientious communications professional," who has had stability in the same management position at a university for 17 years.

The big loser in the cat-killing incident was the community, which compromised its integrity without regard for the objectivity in news reporting of an independently-operated, local newspaper.

These attacks, especially the violent assault on the Capital Gazette newsroom Thursday, serve as reminders of the importance of doing our jobs in reporting the news.

"Freedom of the Press" remains a foundational principle established in America and not found universally across the globe. The concept is an integral part of what makes America unique and we celebrate that heritage with every firecracker set off on the Fourth-of-July. Let "Freedom of the Press" ring.

MARK HUMPHREY IS A SPORTS WRITER FOR THE ENTERPRISE-LEADER. THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED ARE HIS OWN.

Sports on 07/04/2018

Print Headline: Let Freedom Of The Press Ring

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