6.28.18 – Caroline Simon, USA TODAY
After a deadly shooting at the Capital Gazettenewspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, newsrooms around the country are on high alert.
At least a half-dozen major newspapers are putting more security in place around news organizations.
In New York City, police dispatched units to media outlets across the city to guard against potential copycat or coordinated attacks. New York Police Department spokesman Peter Donald said Thursday dozens of locations were getting extra cover.
Donald said the action was purely precautionary and not based on a specific threat or information gathered from the Annapolis attack.
“They will be there until we feel like there is no longer a need,” Donald said.
Tom Marquardt, the former executive editor of the Capital, posted on Facebook that the shooting is “impossible to grasp.”
“I can’t even fathom with any degree of understanding what happened at my old newspaper today,” Marquardt said. “The Capital, like all newspapers, angered people every day in its pursuit of the news. In my day, people protested by writing letters to the editor; today it’s through the barrel of a gun.”
Bruce Alexander, a security expert who has worked at the Office of Antiterrorism Assistance at the U.S. Department of State, said it’s common to take extra precautions in the immediate aftermath of a shooting.
“There always the concern in the short period thereafter that other media institutions will become the target,” Alexander said. “Other attacks might embolden people who might not have been predisposed to do it.”
Chicago police also said they were taking additional security precautions in the aftermath of the shooting, which killed five people and injured two others.
“We are in real time communication with the FBI and Annapolis Police on the Maryland incident,” police said in a statement, according to CBS. “We are also checking in with Chicago media outlets so you can expect to get a visit from a CPD tactical team officer to talk with your station security teams.”
Chicago police checked in with local media outlets following the incident in Annapolis.
There are “no threats or nexus to Chicago but given the Capital Gazette is a (Tronc) owned paper we sent officers to all media outlets to check in,” said Anthony Guglielmi, a Chicago Police Department spokesman. Tronc is a Chicago-based media company that owns the Capital Gazette as well as the Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun and other newspapers
“We are deeply saddened today by the attack in our Capital Gazette newsroom,” Tronc CEO Justin Dearborn said in a statement. ”Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. We are focused now on providing our employees and their families with support during this tragic time.”
The Los Angeles police department also upped security at local newsrooms in the wake of the shooting. In Nashville, police dispatched two patrol cars to monitor the outside of the Tennessean, part of the USA TODAY Network, reporters there said.
As news of the shooting developed, journalists took to Twitter to discuss security plans in their own newsrooms.
Others worried that attacks on newsrooms will become more common, and journalists will increasingly fear for their safety.
“The media itself as an institution – there’s a heightened focus on it, these days in particular,” Alexander said, adding that attacking a media organization by default garners a great deal of publicity.
Contributing: Kevin Johnson, Aamer Madhani and Trevor Hughes