"We're Putting Out A Damn Paper Tomorrow"

By Rich Harwood

Another tragic shooting has shaken our nation. Yesterday, a gunman walked into the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, killing five people and injuring two more. How are we to respond to the often-overwhelming feelings of anger, grief and exhaustion that now grip our nation?

On the heels of the shooting, Capital Gazette reporter Chase Cook tweeted yesterday, “I can tell you this, we’re putting out a damn paper tomorrow.”

Amid the chaos and sorrow, the Capital Gazette staff mustered the energy, grit and courage to do just that. That damn paper is out on the streets today.

Just after the shooting, the now predictable recriminations and polarized political debate heated up once more. Was the paper too far left leaning? Are guns the problem? Are journalists the ‘enemy’ of the public—and by extension, are they simply reaping the consequences of what’s been coming to them?

Last night I helped lead an interfaith conversation in Northern Virginia about American identity. What people were feeling was a sense of bewilderment about where our nation is. About how we find ways to engage one another. About who we are, and who exactly are we becoming.

Families are dividing up, one side against another. People are finding it difficult to talk to long-time friends. Workplace conversations have become divisive.

How do we function in this environment? What happens when we feel under siege? How do we trust one another? What are we to do when we can’t seem to find the goodness in one another?

I will be saying more about this in the coming months, both in writing and through a new multi-city yearlong speaking tour that I am undertaking to discuss how we can move forward, together.

But, for now, I simply want to echo the words of the Capital Gazette reporter, Chase Cook: “We’re putting out a damn paper tomorrow.”

In these few, profound words, Cook is teaching each of us what we must do amid our bewilderment. In our own lives, in our own ways, we must muster the courage to put out the damn paper today.

Each of us can seek out others to share stories of what matters to us in our lives. In doing so, we can work to recognize each other’s humanity. We can make the affirmative choice to honor one another’s dignity: to see and hear one another, and to intrinsically value each other and, importantly, to assert our own dignity.

Of course, such steps won’t stop the killing. Nor in the near term will they alter our politics.

But this is what I also know: without each of us stepping forward and rediscovering our shared sense of humanity and dignity, there is no hope that we will come to address these larger concerns.

I urge you: find your own way to reach out to someone else today and begin the steps of restoring your belief in our collective selves.

If not us, then who? If not now, then when?


Dedicated to Rob Hiaasen, Gerald Fischman, John McNamara, Wendi Winters, Rebecca Smith, and The Capital Gazette family