Reporting in crisis: The Capitol Gazette massacre and the fate of journalism

■ By Mark Sarll Jr. / Contributed

Did you think the Parisian satirical publication Charlie Hebdo was the only one? You’re wrong! Speaking as a freelance journalist myself, with this publication and many others, reporting the truth can make you some friends – and plenty of enemies.
The idea of journalists being murdered seems like something conjured up from a war zone in Darfur or Kabul, but it’s happening right here on western soil, and it looks like it’s getting worse.
The recent massacre that occurred at the Capitol Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Md., is a strong reminder that we shouldn’t ignore the possibility of horrible attacks occurring from the “inside” (i.e. the West – U.S., UK, France, whatever you want to call it) compared to those going on in the foreign, war-torn, or perhaps “uncivilized” countries (e.g. anywhere that isn’t “the West” or Japan).
For those not in the know, the recent Annapolis massacre occurred because a shooter named Jarrod Ramos didn’t like the Gazette supposedly defaming his name regarding a story that detailed harassment and stalking. His anger brewed further after losing a defamation lawsuit against the publication to the point he decided to kill five employees. The event shocked the U.S. and became immediately politicised following the recent political climate surrounding POTUS’ dislike for “fake news outlets” and Milo Yiannopoulos’ “vigilante squads” to kill journalists.
When you have a culture that promotes hatred and fear of truth-seekers and muckrakers it only strengthens the power of the state, organised religions, and corporate entities. These very institutions will begin telling you what is “good news” and what is “bad news,” and there will be no room for autonomy or independent thought.
George Orwell warned the world about this as did Noam Chomsky and even Alex Jones. The trouble is, various groups will co-opt certain principles and appropriate them for their very ideologies and hammer it down to their fan base…mostly for profit or for retribution against a common enemy (if you’re on the left, it’s the capitalists, if you’re on the right, then it’s the immigrants).
The Valley Chronicle was caught in the crossfire when it objected to Measure E/U to the point that certain businesses didn’t want to work with me or our publisher Eric Buskirk. It was disheartening to say the least and biased, especially because I was a third-party source not necessarily tied to anyone. However, some people didn’t take my claim too seriously.
Anger can drive people to do frightening things. Ramos is not the only one, but he’s the one who will make western, non-foreign-correspondent war-torn journalists certainly think twice about entering into the arena after graduating from college or even just freelancing.
Don’t let those like him, or their crony institutions, rob you of your puzzle-solving, inquisitive thinking. The more you challenge the world, the further along the world will progress.
And remember, the pen is mightier than the sword!

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