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Newsroom Attack Leaves Journalists Shaken but Resolute

The Columbia Journalism Review headline for a Friday story said it all, “The War Against the Press Comes to the Local Newsroom.”  Last Thursday, an armed gunman killed five at a Maryland newspaper that he had unsuccessfully sued for defamation.

Just Sunday, an intruder at a New Mexico television station forced the cancellation of evening newscasts.  Texas has had its share of close calls at stations as well.  You probably know of at least one, and just as likely, it was in your market.  The reaction to the most recent incidents by those in Texas newsrooms has been one of shock and sadness.  But importantly, the words of Capital Gazette reporter Chase Cook in a defiant tweet have served as a rallying cry for many Texas journalists.  “I can tell you this,” Cook said, “We are putting out a damn paper tomorrow."

These incidents serve as stark reminders that although we are performing an important role in our local communities as first informers, we are also in harm’s way.  As the CJR aptly said, “Local newsrooms are accessible for a reason—it’s part of what makes them integral to the life of their communities.  It is heartbreaking, but necessary, to recognize that the openness that defines local news likely carries too high a risk; local newsrooms, at least for now, may have no choice but to fortify themselves.”

These difficult times have reminded stations around the country this week to check station security.  If your station has not reviewed its security measures and protocols, do so now.  There are numerous security companies that can help stations assess the adequacy of station security measures.

Additionally, the FBI and some local law enforcement agencies offer active shooter training seminars.  As we celebrate our nation’s birthday and give thanks for a constitutional right of a free press guaranteed in the First Amendment, we must defend that right as well.  Be it on foreign shores or here at home.

Questions?  Contact TAB's Michael Schneider or call (512) 322-9944.

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