The murder of five journalists in Maryland yesterday is more than a wake-up call for us here at Amplify and everyone who does journalism work in 2018. We need protection. We need security personnel. We need someone that at least can put up some kind of resistance to a shooter that wants to murder reporters and journalists.
Being a journalist in 2018 means dealing with unstable, crazy people. They call our cell phones. They send harassing messages on Facebook and Twitter. I get anonymous calls from people about Fyre Festival, or Joe Meli’s sentencing or mad that I never listened to their demo tape. We try to make ourselves accessible. We take people’s calls and listen to their diatribes because maybe there’s a way we can help them. Maybe there’s a story there for us.
In the last year, I’ve implemented a new rule for myself. I do not communicate with anonymous people. You would be amazed how many people call or email me and try and hide their identity. I politely tell these individuals that unless I have a name that I can verify, I won’t engage. I hesitate to provide the details of one particular incident where I was flooded with death threats from people mad over something I wrote. I was really freaked out and I installed cameras in my office. And then weeks later, those cameras filmed the Long Beach PD forcing me out of my office at gunpoint as they responded to a false alarm.
It was insane, I had over a dozen cops pointing their guns at me as I crawled on my hands and knees begging them not to shoot. I guess someone triggered an alarm at my office building and police thought I was a burglar. It was insanely scary, but honestly, I was never mad at the police. That’s ALL I have to protect me. The Long Beach Police Department is my last and only line of armed defense, and I support them, even when they scare the hell out of me.
After yesterday’s shooting, I’ve once again analyzed our security and thought about ways to harden our offices. Our small team talks about security issues often, and we’re cautious about sharing our address. We feel relatively safe. Some days are better than others.
Protect yourself. Hire guards, get metal detectors, install cameras, adopt a big ass dog. Do something and stay alert. And if you get a chance, make a donation to the Go Fund Me page set up in the wake of the deaths of those who died at the Capital Gazette. You can find more information here.