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Capital Gazette editor named National Press Foundation's editor of the year

The National Press Foundation has named the editor of the Capital Gazette newspapers, Rick Hutzell, as its Benjamin C. Bradlee Editor of the Year.

Hutzell received the award for leading his newsroom through and beyond a mass shooting in the Capital Gazette offices. He will be honored at the foundation’s annual journalism awards dinner Feb. 13, 2019.

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A gunman entered the Capital Gazette newsroom June 28 and killed five employees — John McNamara, Wendi Winters, Rebecca Smith, Gerald Fischman and Rob Hiaasen. Despite the attack, the paper did not miss an edition.

Across the street from the crime scene, two reporters and one photographer were working to report the story of the day, the massacre of their friends and co-workers at the Capital-Gazette.

“We saw courage in the face of unimaginable tragedy in the Capital Gazette editor and his staff,” National Press Foundation judges said in a statement. “As pledged, they put out a ‘damn paper’ the next day, and every day since in service to their community. It underscores the importance of local newspapers and the unbreakable bond with their communities.”

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The Capital Gazette newsroom is responsible for publications including the Capital, the Maryland Gazette and capitalgazette.com. It is part of the Baltimore Sun Media Group.

Though he is the recipient of the award, Hutzell said he shares the honor with his colleagues.

“It’s an affirmation of the fact that the people in this newsroom are in this together and people recognize that,” he said.

Hutzell said he has tried to take lessons from his fallen coworkers in the days since the attack. He tries to edit more like Hiaasen; contemplate what Fischman would have said or written in an editorial; consider how Winters would approach a story; reflect on how McNamara would have covered a council meeting; and think about how Smith would greet members of the public.

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A new fundraiser has been set up for those interested in donating to the families, victims and survivors of the mass shooting at The Annapolis Capital Gazette, the newspaper’s owner announced Friday. A scholarship fund has also been set up for journalism students at the University of Maryland.

“This award and any recognition we get from the public ... in the days following June 28 are bittersweet,” Hutzell said. “I’d rather have my friends back.”

An Annapolis resident, Hutzell started with the company in 1987 and has worked as a reporter, editor and columnist throughout the years. He was named editor of the papers in 2015.

The nonprofit National Press Foundation established the editor of the year award in 1984.

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