On the day her late husband and his Annapolis Capital Gazette colleagues were recognized with a Time magazine cover and a plaque at the University of Maryland’s journalism college, Andrea Chamblee implored a roomful of journalists to resist the temptation to become numb to gun violence.
She told the story of a recent conversation with a veteran whose advice stuck with the grieving widow: “Get used to not getting used to it.”
“I need you writers to tell the story of all victims of gun violence,” Chamblee said. “I need you to get used to not getting used to it.”
Her husband, John McNamara, was one of five Capital Gazette employees — Rob Hiaasen, Wendi Winters, Rebecca Smith and Gerald Fischman were the others — killed June 28 when a gunman broke into the newspapers’ Annapolis office.
The university’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism dedicated the Capital Gazette Memorial Seminar Room at Knight Hall with a ceremony Tuesday, just hours after the newspapers’ staff found out they and their five fallen colleagues were among the 2018 Time Person of the Year honorees — a surprise to the staff, who had not been told they would be receiving the magazine’s top honor.
The plaque, in a room used for classes, faculty meetings, seminars and other purposes, memorialized each of the late Capital Gazette staff members.
Fischman: “an inclusive editorial writer, 1979 Merrill College graduate, Diamondback alumnus and mentor to young journalists.”
Hiaasen: “a deft feature writer, editor, columnist, author, Merrill College teacher and mentor to young journalists.”
McNamara: “a devoted sportswriter, author, editor, 1983 Merrill College graduate, Diamondback alumnus and mentor to young journalists.”
Smith: “a thoughtful and community-minded advertising sales assistant and the inviting public face of the newsroom.”
Winters: “a feature writer, prolific chronicler of the community and mentor to young journalists.”
Capital Gazette editor Rick Hutzell called each of them “important figures in the history of community journalism.”
“Today’s dedication recognizes that,” Hutzell said. “I think they would all be proud of that as part of their legacy. Remember them, and remember what they died for.”
Lucy Dalglish, dean of the journalism college, noted the long relationship between the newspaper and the school, which carries the name of a longtime Capital Gazette owner, Philip Merrill.
The college, she said, was “very proud of our long relationship with the Capital Gazette, and even prouder to be able to recognize the victims and survivors and their families today.”
Trif Alatzas, editor and publisher of the Baltimore Sun Media Group, which includes the Capital Gazette, said he wasn’t surprised to get an email from Dalglish moments after the shooting to offer whatever the college could give to help the newspaper move forward.
He, like others, teared up as he repeated the names of the fallen staffers.
“We miss them terribly and we think of them every day,” he said. “And we know how proud they would be of their colleagues who have continued their exceptional work in Annapolis in the face of this tragedy.”