June 29, 2018

Newsrooms have long supported each other by sending food during tragedies and breaking news. But after Thursday’s shooting that killed five journalists at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, groups of journalists took a more direct approach — and in less than a day, one campaign has raised more than $130,000.

A GoFundMe to support the Capital Gazette newsroom grew out of a discussion in a Facebook group of female journalists, reporter Madi Alexander said.

“Our hearts break for our colleagues in Annapolis and we want to do whatever we possibly can to help them pay for medical bills, funeral costs, newsroom repairs, and any other unforeseen expenses that might arise as a result of this terrible shooting,” the GoFundMe description reads.

Alexander, a data journalist at Bloomberg Government, talked with a Capital Gazette columnist and set the fund up with an initial goal of $10,000 — but she kept having to expand the goal as donations poured in.

The GoFundMe passed $130,000 on Friday afternoon, with more than 2,500 individual donors.

“The outpouring of support has been so overwhelming and I never expected us to get anywhere close to $100k,” Alexander said in a message. “These days reporters are subject to abuse, harassment and violence, so seeing donations pour in from around the world has me feeling confident that community news is appreciated, even when it doesn’t seem like the case.”

Other groups of journalists are putting together care packages for the newsrooms affected.

Naseem Miller covered the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting as a reporter at the Orlando Sentinel, and the food and gifts from other journalists kept the newsroom going while covering the tragedy, she said.

She’s part of a closed Facebook group of journalists who’ve covered tragedy that has previously raised money to send multiple newsrooms care packages. They’re putting together packages for The Baltimore Sun, and another group is putting together packages for the Capital Gazette.

The group looks for items that will provide comfort and a short distraction, Miller said. Play-Doh is always popular because “it’s kind of like a stress ball, but it takes you back to your childhood with the smell.” They also include candy, chocolate, stuffed animals and little toys or puzzles.

“When this happened yesterday, this was the only thing that kept me sane,” she said. “You feel numb, you feel sad and angry. This is the only thing I feel like we can do: try to let that newsroom and nearby newsrooms know we’re here and we’re thinking of them.”

This story has been updated with donation totals.

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