June 17, 2021

June 28 marks the third anniversary of the deadly attack on the (Annapolis, Maryland) Capital Gazette newsroom that killed five: Gerald Fischman, John McNamara, Rob Hiaasen, Wendi Winters and Rebecca Smith.

The month also coincides with the buyout offer from the newspaper’s new hedge fund owner, Alden Global Capital, which recently acquired Tribune Publishing.

Even for Alden, it’s a particularly cruel move.

Poynter emailed the company for a comment. If we hear back, we’ll include it.

This week, journalist Chase Cook tweeted he’d accepted the offer. As Annapolis Creative journalist Donna L. Cole reminded people, Cook’s tweet on the day of the shooting was one that embodied solidarity, defiance and dedication after the newsroom was attacked and his colleagues killed.

Editor Rick Hutzell is also taking the buyout. His last day is Friday. 

Among the survivors of the shooting, journalist Selene San Felice is now the co-author of Axios Local’s Tampa Bay newsletter. Journalist Phil Davis now works at The Baltimore Sun, the Capital Gazette’s sister paper. Journalist Rachael Pacella and photojournalist Paul Gillespie both work at the Capital Gazette. Among newsroom staff who covered the shooting, photojournalist Joshua McKerrow and reporter Pat Furgurson took buyouts in January 2020. Journalist Danielle Ohl works for the Capital Gazette.

They were all among Time Magazine’s 2018 Person of the Year, which honored “the guardians” in “the war on truth.” In 2019, the newsroom won a special citation from the Pulitzer Prize boardto honor the journalists, staff and editorial board of the Capital Gazette, Annapolis, Maryland, for their courageous response to the largest killing of journalists in U.S. history in their newsroom on June 28, 2018, and for demonstrating unflagging commitment to covering the news and serving their community at a time of unspeakable grief.” 

After the shooting, the Capital Gazette newsroom relocated, but that space was closed permanently last year by former owner Tribune Publishing, which also closed the physical newsrooms of several other newspapers during the pandemic.

Also happening at the end of June, Cole reported, a lawsuit against Tribune Publishing from surviving family “for failure to provide adequate security”;  the start of the second trial against the shooter; and construction of the Guardians of the First Amendment Memorial in Annapolis.  

Photojournalist Gillespie is also opening an exhibit at the Michael E. Busch Annapolis Library. It’s called “Journalists Matter: Faces of the Capital Gazette, a photo exhibit of the lives impacted.”

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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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