April 16, 2019

Monday at the Capital Gazette, like every day since June 28, staff were thinking about the five who aren’t there.

Rob Hiaasen.

Gerald Fischman.

Wendi Winters.

John McNamara.

Rebecca Smith.

But they’re also recognizing the work their Annapolis, Maryland, newsroom has done every day since.

The trial of the man who killed their colleagues.

The local election that changed the political leanings of the county.

The county council member who said horrible things about Muslims on social media.

The opioid crisis.

The weather.

“It has been the stuff that local journalism does,” said editor Rick Hutzell. “… We’ve covered everything from the mundane to the ridiculous to the tragic. We’re not the only ones who have lost people to gun violence. We’re not the only ones who have been through things that are emotional and tough. But we are still doing the job.”

For that newsroom’s continuing work during and after that attack, staff were awarded a special award and citation from the Pulitzer board. This year is the first time the board has given that honor since 2010.

“The citation honors its journalists, staff and editorial board for their courageous response to the largest killing of journalists in U.S. history in their newsroom on June 28, 2018,” said Pulitzer administrator Dana Canedy, “and for demonstrating unflagging commitment to covering the news and serving their community at a time of unspeakable grief.”

The citation includes $100,000, she said, “to be used to further paper’s journalistic mission.”

“Through unimaginable adversity and horror, the staff of the Capital Gazette kept doing what no gunman could stop: they published,” said Poynter President Neil Brown, a member of the Pulitzer Prize Board. “Their exceptional courage and unparalleled belief in the cause of local news guided them through the heavy weight of grief and fear. They just kept publishing. In doing so they showed, once again, how the local newsroom is so utterly essential to bringing a community together. “

The Capital Gazette’s editorial board was also a finalist in editorial writing in the 2019 Pulitzer Prizes “for deeply personal editorials that reflected on gun violence, loss and recovery following a newsroom attack that left five of the writers’ colleagues dead.”

Related: At the Capital Gazette, we’re still mourning. We’re gonna need help. But we’re still here.

The special award is not the first time the newsroom has been recognized for enduring through the deadly shooting.

In December, the Capital Gazette was included in Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, which recognized “The guardians.”

“Still intact, indeed strengthened after the mass shooting, are the bonds of trust and community that for national news outlets have been eroded on strikingly partisan lines, never more than this year,” Time wrote of the newsroom.

After that award, Hutzell told the Baltimore Sun that it was a “great and terrible honor.”

On Monday, he said the newsroom “hesitated to call it a celebration, but we felt it was a good moment to honor the work we’ve done.”

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Kristen Hare teaches local journalists the critical skills they need to serve and cover their communities as Poynter's local news faculty member. Before joining faculty…
Kristen Hare

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