From a journalist, your friend.

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By Chase Campbell

Journalists, at their core, have one of the most American jobs anyone can have. They help uphold the ideals of democracy, fairness and justice at home, and it is as important a job as any.

When journalists are at work, though, they laugh with their friends. They make jokes. At the News-Democrat, they throw blue stress balls at each other. One is broken in half, but we still like to toss it around anyway. When they leave, they go to church. They go to the movies. They spend time with their families.

Journalism is a profession worth dying for, in my opinion. If a journalist dies because of their pursuit of truth, it is tragic and painful, but they can be honored by their story being told. What happened at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md., however, is none of those things.

As a gunman marched through their newsroom on June 28, shooting every reporter he came across, the world watched in horror as a man took his personal revenge out on the people that told his story.

Rob Hiaasen was an editor, just making sure that the week’s paper was in order and that everyone was on task. He was their Kristin Beck, and he died for it.

Gerald Fischman was a writer of 25 years, one of the most seasoned the Capital Gazette had. He had evolved with print journalism along with the rest of the world. He was their Jeff Moore, and he died for it.

John McNamara had a passion for sports, and his coverage of the teams in Maryland was done with joy and enthusiasm. He was their Tim Hendrick, and he died for it.

Wendi Winters had a background in fashion and public relations. She wrote feature stories and was a community resource. She was their Joan Wright, and she died for it.

Rebecca Smith was a recent hire to the newspaper and worked as a sales assistant. She could have worked alongside our Deborah Garrett, and she died for it.

The point is that this could have happened anywhere. Every journalist felt their loss, whether they knew them or not.

Anywhere something bad happens to someone, journalists are often there doing their job. People may not be happy about it, but it’s still our job to tell the story fairly. That’s why it could’ve happened anywhere, to any of us.

People get convicted for things all the time. If it’s unusual, it’s news. If it’s important, it’s news. Just because it’s a journalist’s job to write about it, doesn’t mean we are against or for those we write about.

My fear, now that I’m actually getting to the point, is the rhetoric that’s being built against journalists. The Annapolis shooter sued the paper in 2012 over the coverage of his conviction, but he decided to act on his anger now. Why?

In an era where “fake news” is cited every time someone reads something they disagree with, journalists are portrayed as the enemy of the people. Yet, after we step out of the office, we stand arm-in-arm with you and your community as we laugh with you, cry with you and share memories together.

I fear that this is not over. This does not end violence at home against journalists. I’m only 19 years old and coming to terms with the fact that I may be attacked in a newsroom because it happened somewhere else. I fear that instead of a stress ball flying at me from Darrel Taylor’s cubicle, it will one day be someone’s bullet that didn’t like what I wrote about them.

I wonder if the staff at the Capital Gazette playfully threw things at one another. I wonder if they ever will again.

Journalists are not your enemy. Newsrooms are not a war zone. And the news will always continue to print, no matter how hard the world tries to stop it. Journalism is worth dying for, but being a journalist isn’t cause for death. Be sure to help your local paper, whether it be this one or another, continue to do their work. It’s important, because public information is the most valuable asset to a democracy that anyone could have.

Those at the Capital Gazette shouldn’t have died. Those that survived will have to live the rest of their lives with the trauma of hearing their friends and coworkers gunned down for doing their job. No profession in the world deserves that, and certainly not one that fights so hard to give everyone a voice.

I just hope that in my (fingers crossed) long career in journalism, I never have to write this column again. I hope nobody has to write this column again.

Chase Campbell is the summer intern for The News-Democrat. He is a journalism junior at the University of Kentucky and the assistant sports editor of the Kentucky Kernel.