Former U-T Reporter Helps Out In Capital Gazette Newsroom, Site Of Mass Shooting
the man charged with killing five people last month in the capital Gazette newsroom in Maryland pleaded not guilty Monday. The accused Jared Ramos was not in the courtroom. His public defender entered the plea for him. This shooting in the newsroom of the Capitol Gazette sent shock waves through other newsrooms across the nation. Reporters who were called the enemy of the people by the current administration wondered if they were now targets for violence but it has also led to an outpouring of support for the Capitol Gazette. Joshua Stewart a reporter who recently covered county politics for The San Diego Union Tribune has been hard at work in the Gazette's newsroom. He tweeted on Monday that he was there for quote a few weeks helping any way I can. And Joshua Stewart joins us now. Joshua welcome to the program. Thanks for having me. How are you helping out today. Well today a lot of stuff this morning. I was diverted to the Naval Academy to help with coverage of a suspicious package that was found in Melbourne that wandered dormitories there. Later today I'm headed to the mall to write about a renovation to the food court. I'm writing about the various fundraisers to assist the victims and survivors of the shooting. Joshel why did you decide to help out at the Capitol Gazette. Yeah you know I worked here from May 2006 until early 2000 11. And you know the culture of this newspaper is really tightened. You know I was there for a while. And I'm still friends with the people that I worked with here at the Capitol than any other place have been. So you know it's a special place for me and a lot of other people that have passed through here over the years. And in terms of perspective I mean you know they need some help for a couple reasons. One they literally lawful out of south into you know people that are here and need to take some time to heal. You know they need to take some time off. There's a liberal leave policy in effect so many of the day they get a day. And you know what. And for me personally you know processing the killing was hard you know particularly being on the West Coast when it happened you know I kind of thought personally you know like you know I wasn't able to do much. So coming here has been you know helpful and just you know submitting and you know in a way that assist them in a very gentle very direct manner. Joshua have you sat down with anyone there to have them tell you what it was like to be at the Gazette on June 28 when the shootings occurred. Yeah this morning I was on an assignment with Paul Gillespie one of the photographers who was there. The suspect was originally charged with attempted murder specifically for trying to kill Paul among other charges. And you know we talked about it you know and just how he's handling it. You know how you know taking compain how he's using him back into it. You know I've spoken with other reporters that were there but not specifically about the shooting itself and you know trying to broach the subject gingerly with people as they need to. You know I want to make sure that I give them the space you know particular as a stranger to do things in the way that's best for them. Do we know any more about why this shooter targeted the Capitol because it is nothing new that hasn't been reported but he had a longstanding grudge against the paper following a column by my friend former roommate Eric Hartley where Eric wrote about his conviction on harassment charges. And you know you just had a longstanding grudge from there and you know it just escalated and included you know nasty messages on social media to various employees. And you know that's the extent of it it just spiraled from there. Journalists around the country responded to the attack on these reporters very personally. What other kinds of support is the capitol Gazette staff getting. You know this right now is the most well-fed newsroom in the country. You know there are today they got a bunch of cookies from a Teachers Writers Association and they've been a hit you know other reporters have bought lunches for them. You know the entire newsroom at once you know a bunch of reporters that previously worked for myself included has contributed to what basically is like a big pedicle.
Joshua Stewart was heading to Annapolis, Maryland anyway. His first year of law school at the University of Maryland is scheduled to start Aug. 20.
But on the way, the former politics reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune answered a call from the Capital Gazette for volunteers. The Annapolis newspaper was the victim of a mass shooting last month. Five staffers were killed and two others were injured.
Stewart was a reporter at the Gazette for a few years before he came west to San Diego in 2011. He was grateful for the chance to help out his former colleagues. Stewart noted that the newsroom at the Gazette is probably the best-fed in the country, with gifts of cookies and lunches coming in regularly.
All that, plus volunteers like Stewart, help the remaining staff continue to process the awful event and take what comfort they can from regular, familiar tasks.