Friday, June 29, 2018

For Capital Gazette journalists, the focus is on getting out Saturday's paper

The surviving staff members of the Capital Gazette are gathering on Friday to figure out what to do now.

Against all odds, the paper still came out on Friday, hours after a man gunned down five employees in Annapolis, Maryland.

The coming days are likely to be even more difficult, several staff members told CNN. Some of the adrenaline has worn off. The grieving process has just begun. But the deadlines just keep coming.

The Capital is a seven-day-a-week paper, and the immediate priority is Saturday's edition.

Some staff met in person Friday morning, and others joined via conference call, to discuss next steps.

Step one: Finding workspace. The gunshot-riddled office is inoperable. But the paper has help. It is part of The Baltimore Sun Media Group, which is owned by Tronc, so the staff is working from the offices of the Sun on Friday, a Tronc spokesman confirmed.

Counselors and other support services are on hand at the Sun.

The recovery effort is being led by Capital Gazette editor in chief Rick Hutzell. He was on vacation when the shooting took place, so he rushed back to Annapolis on Thursday afternoon.

"From the first moment, he was determined to publish this morning," columnist Terry Smith said on "New Day."

Hutzell was quoted in Friday's edition saying "we are heartbroken, devastated. Our colleagues and friends are gone."

Annapolis shooting: A day newsrooms have feared

Baltimore Sun Media Group publisher Trif Alatzas and other executives are also deeply involved. Some Tronc executives flew to Maryland to help.

The Sun handles production and other back-end functions for Capital Gazette. After the attack, the Sun replicated its breaking news story on the Gazette's website and relayed information from Phil Davis, a reporter who survived the shooting inside the newsroom.

Staffers who weren't at the office raced to the scene. Reporters Chase Cook, Josh McKerrow and Pat Furgurson worked on the next day's paper from the back of a pickup truck in a nearby parking garage.

"We covered the press conferences and worked alongside our colleagues at The Baltimore Sun to confirm what we heard," Cook told CNN.

That cooperative spirit is expected to continue in the days ahead.

The Capital Gazette may need reinforcements from the Sun, since several veteran editors and reporters are among the dead.

Smith said the shooter was "very deliberate" in "going to the left and down the row of editors' offices" in the newsroom.

One of the five victims was editorial page editor Gerald Fischman. Friday's opinion page was left blank in commemoration of the victims.

A small message on the page read, "Tomorrow this page will return to its steady purpose of offering our readers informed opinions about the world around them, that they might be better citizens."

Read our latest "Reliable Sources" newsletter: "The newsroom shooter exploited journalism's open doors"

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