Capital Gazette editor Rick Hutzell accepted the National Press Foundation’s Benjamin C. Bradlee Editor of the Year award at a Wednesday night event in Washington, D.C.
“It is a difficult thing to stand here and accept an honor that, no matter how much I appreciate it, I would rather not have,” Hutzell said in his address accepting the award.
In an event honoring such distinguished journalists as Judy Woodruff, Al Hunt and Lester Holt, Hutzell’s address prompted a standing ovation from the crowd celebrating journalistic excellence.
“I firmly believe that I’ve done what [former Washington Post editor Benjamin] Bradlee was saying: Show up at work and look for the truth in good conscience and with fairness online and in print.”
Hutzell received the award after leading his newsroom through and beyond a mass shooting in the Capital Gazette office. A gunman entered the Capital Gazette office 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.
In his address, Hutzell thanked Capital Gazette staffers and support from its parent, Baltimore Sun Media and Tribune Publishing, but made special reference to those who died in the attack.
“I have to tell you about Rob, who could have done this better than me. Gerald, who would have been more eloquent. Wendi, who would have heard our community in ways I can’t. John, who would have provided quiet strength and Rebecca, who was simply the nicest of us all.”
An Annapolis resident, Hutzell started with the company in 1987 and has worked as a reporter, editor and columnist in the years since. He was named editor of the papers in 2015.
The nonprofit National Press Foundation established the editor of the year award in 1984.
The foundation is the latest organization to honor the staff of Capital Gazette, which produces The Capital daily newspaper, the twice-weekly Maryland Gazette and other print publications as well as capitalgazette.com. It is part of Baltimore Sun Media and Tribune Publishing.
The National Press Club, the National Press Foundation, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and The Baltimore Sun have all honored the news organization. In December, the staff of Capital Gazette was among journalists named as Time magazine’s persons of the year.