By Hamzat Sani, Special to the AFRO

Last week five fellow journalists were taken from us in the line of duty at the Capital Gazette. Gerald Fischman, Robert Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters were all a part of the community of journalist dedicated to bringing the truth to light no matter how gritty or polished. Their loss is a reminder that their work often comes with danger present. Some have a view of journalist always busily hunched over a computer tapping away frantically at their keyboards hoping to communicate the depth of a story before deadline.  However, getting to the point where you have facts to actually report takes a great deal of legwork, research and sometimes pestering people that most would give a very wide berth. Journalist ask very dangerous people the questions we have but ofen fear the answers to.

Marcus K. Dowling and Kristin Jeffers are among the journalists who shared their reactions post the shooting at the Capital Gazette. (AP Photo)

In the wake of the Capital Gazette shooting The AFRO queried fellow journalists on the following questions related to the safety of their work and ours.

Camielle Lawson-Livingstone

  1. Do you feel unsafe after the shooting at the Capital Gazette given it happened so close to D.C.?

Yes, though proximity is the least relevant factor, this is America. Guns are everywhere and accessible by nearly everyone.

  1. Do you feel gun reform will prevent more mass shootings?

Yes, though I do not believe the current reform options being tentatively suggested are likely to do much.

  1. Do you feel that the media is literally under attack?

Yes, from both the inside and outside.

  1. Have there ever been times where you felt unsafe doing your work as a journalist?

Yes, of course.

Kristen Jeffers

  1. Do you feel unsafe after the shooting at the Capital Gazette given it happened so close to D.C.?

No more than I do on a daily basis, considering we’ve started to see mass shootings in every context and every place imaginable.

  1. Do you feel gun reform will prevent more mass shootings?

It depends. There are a lot of people who own guns, but never think to use them to shoot up masses of people. Also, guns may go away, but we haven’t discussed bombs and other chemical attacks, as well as other attacks such as theft and other means of terrorizing people.

  1. Do you feel that the media is literally under attack?

No more than it has been. I think this is yet another case of a long string of attacks on the media. As I’ve seen on several other journalist social media pages and in articles, this is a lot of folks’ worst fears. There’s always someone who’s hypercritical of the work and sometimes that person is more than willing to threaten death or extreme violence. Sadly, in Annapolis, that person decided to show up.

  1. Have there ever been times where you felt unsafe doing your work as a journalist?

Yes, even just being online and knowing that women tend to be harassed or questioned more than men and that alone can cause more mental terror than necessary.

Jamaal Abdul-Alim

  1. Do you feel unsafe after the shooting at the Capital Gazette given it happened so close to D.C.?

I still feel safe because I work from home but even if I didn’t what happened is an aberration that appears to be based on a dispute between the newspaper and the aggrieved perpetrator.

  1. Do you feel gun reform will prevent more mass shootings?

I honestly don’t know but some weapons appear to have no legitimate purpose in a civil society.

  1. Do you feel that the media is literally under attack?

No. This was a unique situation not related to political bent or bias but a personal dispute.

  1. Have there ever been times where you felt unsafe doing your work as a journalist?

Yes as a crime reporter I’ve had some precarious situations but for the most part I feel safe.

I don’t think I’d feel safe at some of these rallies though.

Marcus K. Dowling

  1. Do you feel unsafe after the shooting at the Capital Gazette given it happened so close to D.C.?

I’ve always regarded Annapolis as close, but separated by say, Route 50. Dr. King said that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” though. Thus, I feel like this is the type of issue that “inspires” manic individuals to acts of madness pretty much anywhere.

  1. Do you feel gun reform will prevent more mass shootings?

Gun reform will not. Individuals who are passionate about their guns and their rights to bear arms will always have both, plus be willing to follow regulations. Also, because freedom and equality are what they are in how they encompass ALL viewpoints, if angered, gun owners CAN respond violently.

  1. Do you feel that the media is literally under attack?

I feel like that’s an apt statement.

  1. Have there ever been times where you felt unsafe doing your work as a journalist?

I believe that if a perspective is presented honestly and with significant evidence to support it, that there’s enough protection offered by information. Of course, given that we’re so diametrically opposed, what’s required to create that evidence is more considerable than it has ever been.

We honor the life and work of those lost reporting the truth here and in other parts of the world and do not take for granted the privilege of having journalists ask the hard questions we struggle to find the language for. Rest in power and print.