Speaking for the silent

Lately it seems that a challenge is issued every few days against the media. Someone is always trying to silence our voices, the voices that our country’s Constitution is supposed to protect. Challenges come from all sides, from tariffs imposed by the federal government on newsprint that feel designed to put our newspapers out of business to fake news propagated by our President and now shootings in newsrooms. This week, five voices, the voices of our brother and sister journalists at the Capital Gazette, were silenced forever in a horrifying attack on their newsroom. Their loss is unbelievable and the respect I feel for the remaining staff for not skipping a beat, not bowing to fear and releasing a new issue less than 24 hours after the shooting, is immeasurable. Five people were killed simply for doing their jobs, which is terrifying. I will always remember June 28 as the day when doing my job gave me pause. For the first time I really thought about the potential personal consequences of simply doing my job. The concern became not just telling the truth in the stories I submit for print but what someone might do to me or my co-workers because of it. Thankfully, we live in a relatively safe area and our community is very supportive of the work we do. However, the thought always will be in the back of my mind now, a voice whispering “what if?” when I write a story. If there’s anything to take from this tragedy it’s that we cannot bow to fear. We cannot allow anyone to take away our rights, to silence our voices. The burden on the press to be a voice for the truth is now more important, more of a privilege and a burden for all of us who call ourselves journalists because now we must speak for those whose voices have been taken from them. – Kristin Swain

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