I talk a lot with the great folks who cover Maryland politics. I’ve often said to a reporter “I won’t talk about that", "I’d rather not discuss that person", or, "this is not for attribution". Simply because I wanted to avoid controversy or because I didn't want to piss off a legislator with a fragile ego and put the college's funding at risk. Reporters don’t have the luxury of silence or the protection of anonymity.
The Capital Gazette wrote a story about a court case involving a man, Jarrod Ramos, who had cyber stalked and harassed a former classmate.He was convicted. The paper conveyed the facts and quoted the judge. Ramos blamed the paper for ruining his life and sued. He lost.
He spent years harassing the paper and issuing threats that went up to the line, but did not cross. On Wednesday, he made good on his threats. 5 people died. 5 people who had nothing to do with the original story. 5 people who worked everyday, directly or indirectly, dedicated to informing their community. 5 people who deserved our respect.
Reporters are routinely berated and belittled for reporting the news. They're made scapegoats. They're an easy target because they can't fight back. And they are known. They are public figures who must be out and among the public to do their jobs. They stand next to people who are protected by armed guards, totally exposed. They make mistakes. They get things wrong. We all do. But a free society dies without them.
Yesterday was a stark reminder of what they do & risk - daily.