IPI condemns killing of journalists in Maryland

Law enforcement officials survey the scene after a gunman fired through a glass door at the Capital Gazette newspaper and sprayed the newsroom with gunfire, killing at least five people and injuring several others, in Annapolis, Maryland, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts - RC1A559CB0C0

The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists for media freedom, has expressed outrage over the killing of five newspaper employees, including four journalists, at the offices of the Capital Gazette newspaper in the U.S. state of Maryland.

It would be recalled that five staff members of the newspaper, based in Annapolis, were killed on June 28 when an attacker armed with a shotgun and smoke grenades forced his way into the paper’s office and sprayed the newsroom with bullets.

“The attack on the Capital Gazette raises important questions about the possible consequences of the anti-media and anti-press-freedom rhetoric that political and opinion leaders in the U.S. have expressed”, IPI Executive Director Barbara Trionfi said.

“A thorough debate around this important point will be necessary to ensure that journalists in the U.S. are able to carry out their profession without fear of retaliation.”

She added: “The global IPI community stands with the colleagues, families and friends of the victims of the Annapolis shooting. Yesterday’s killing was an attack against free journalism worldwide.”

According to IPI’s Death Watch, as many as 48 journalists have been killed in the line of duty so far in 2018. A majority of these journalists died in targeted killings for exposing corruption.

According to a statement by IPI’s North American Committee, “the five killed and two injured were quiet heroes, serving their community and their state by bringing the truth to light, as many American journalists do every day”.

The committee noted that the “deranged act” was the largest single attack on journalists in American history, and must be call to action for society to raise their voices in support of the heroic work of journalists in America and around the world.

“Throughout American history, scores of brave editors and reporters have given their lives for the public’s right to know. The answer of our profession is to go on writing and publishing and using the First Amendment as our founders intended” the statement read in part.

The IPI Committee offered its sincere condolences to the families and the colleagues of the victims and to those injured, and its unending admiration for the work of The Capital Gazette, which published again today.

Media reports said the suspect, who has been arrested, had brought a defamation suit against several of the paper’s journalists in 2012 after the Capital Gazette reported on a criminal case in which the suspect plead guilty to harassing a woman on social media. A judge later dismissed the lawsuit, a ruling upheld by a higher court in 2015.