Journalists – like those killed Thursday – are real people
Thursday’s tragedy at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md. hit close to home for me and two of my colleagues. Brad Simpson, Chief Financial Officer, Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association, Robin Quillon, Publisher of The Tribune-Democrat in Johnstown and myself were meeting in a conference room just outside of the newsroom at the same newspaper that would be the topic of breaking news just a couple of hours later. I remember one victim who walked by me. Sunglasses, hat and a grumpy hello and I said to myself … yeah, he is a news guy.
Journalists matter. Unheralded, unappreciated and sadly unknown. Too bad it takes a tragedy like this to make them known. We thank and acknowledge police men and women, EMT personnel, firefighters, teachers and military personnel for their service. How about love for First Amendment Freedom Fighters?
We always say life is short, but how many of us live by that credo until something hits close to home. This business that we nobly chose is a family, and this tragedy has and will pull us together. However, we can never forget life is more powerful than work, and friends and family are paramount to happiness.
So, my brief encounter at the Capital Gazette with the gentleman who blew by me in a fast shuffle has a name. He is John McNamara and was known as Mac. Below is a brief on Mac which by no means captures his life, but gives you a snapshot about his dedication to our business.
John McNamara held a wide range of jobs for the Capital Gazette newsroom over a career there that spanned more than 20 years.
Mr. McNamara, who has published two books on University of Maryland sports, was a longtime sports reporter and editor, according to his LinkedIn page and people who worked with him. More recently, Mr. McNamara covered news in Bowie, Md., a town west of Annapolis, on a daily basis, and was an editor of two of the Capital Gazette’s local weekly newspapers.
A friend to Mr. McNamara, said he single-handedly informed the city’s residents about the community’s news and politics.
Here is what this editorial is asking each of us to do.
Remember that journalism and journalists are a pillar to democracy.
Remember to enjoy each minute of life.
Remember to look around and notice people who you briefly come in contact with.
And, remember Mr. McNamara — and his colleagues. Proud journalists and friends whose lives were cut way too short.
Mark Cohen is president of the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association, of which The Sentinel is a member.