Listening to the words of staffers Phil Davis, Rachael Pacella and Joshua McKerrow was one of the most moving and inspirational TV experiences I’ve ever had with a Sunday morning public affairs show in the 13 years I’ve been doing them.
I urge you to watch these three talk about their experiences and how resolved they are to remember their colleagues in their lives and work.
The five who died are: editor and columnist Rob Hiaasen, 59; Wendi Winters, 65, a community correspondent who led special publications; editorial page editor Gerald Fischman, 61; editor and sports writer John McNamara, 56; and Rebecca Smith, 34, a recently hired sales assistant.
The show opened with Pacella and Davis talking about being in the office when the shooting took place and how their lives have been since, including their feelings during a candlelight vigil Friday night on the streets of Annapolis at which Davis spoke.
Pacella told a touching a story about the kindness and guidance Hiaasen had shown as an editor in helping her find her voice as a writer.
Viewers only got to hear that story because host Brian Stelter and the producers changed the show’s script on the fly after the first segment, when Pacella told the host she had hoped to include stories about some of her co-workers who died.
I was wired up in a sound booth in Washington waiting to be a part of the next segment and I heard the discussion between Stelter, who was in New York, and the two staffers who were in a studio in Baltimore in my earpiece. I was impressed with the commitment by the producers and host to change the lineup during a commercial break in a live telecast to create the time for Pacella and Davis to more fully express their feelings.
The words of all three staffers left me feeling positive, strong and inspired about the future of journalism.
McKerrow, a Capital Gazette photojournalist who arrived on the scene Thursday and started covering the story immediately from the back of a pickup truck, looked to the future at the end of the segment I shared with him.
"I want to rededicate the rest of my career to helping create more empathy and more communication,” he said. “That's what we're missing.”
You can see more video from the CNN show here.