We are Selene San Felice, Rachael Pacella and Danielle Ohl, reporters at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, MD. 

Selene and Rachael were in the Capital newsroom when a shooter killed five of our colleagues: Rob Hiaasen, Gerald Fischman, Wendi Winters, Rebecca Smith and John McNamara.

Our colleagues who were not in the newsroom reported on the event from just outside. We put out a newspaper the day after and have every day since. 

Danielle has been reporting on the case and the upcoming trial while also covering some of the biggest news in the area. She just got put on a story so she may not be able to answer a lot of questions.

You can find us on Twitter at @SeleneCapGaz, @DTOhl and @RachaelPacella. We'll be answering questions as /u/selencapgaz, /u/rachaelcapgaz and /u/daniellecapgaz

Proof >>> r/https://twitter.com/capgaznews/status/1046764085315080193

We'll be here for about an hour. Ask us anything.

This AMA is part of r/IAmA’s “Spotlight on Journalism” project which aims to shine a light on the state of journalism and press freedom in 2018. Join us for a new AMA every day in October. 


EDIT: That's all folks! We've gotta get back to reporting now. Thank you so much for your questions. We appreciate your support and thoughtfulness.

All we ask now: subscribe to your local paper. If that's us, check out this link. If you live outside Anne Arundel County, MD, find your local news outlet and take the pledge for the paper. A paper subscription costs about as much as your Spotify or Netflix account, or a fancy pumpkin spice beverage.

If you want an awesome "Journalism Matters" or "We are putting out a damn paper" t shirt, it'll support the Capital Gazette Families Fund!

Comments: 556 • Responses: 8  • Date: 

jfrenaye340 karma

What were your thoughts on June 29th when the community came together for the vigil?

It was the most surreal and moving moment of my life.

SeleneCapGaz469 karma

Hey John! It was wonderful to see the community come together that night, but it was surreal in a very different way for me. With such a large crowd and a lot of politicians speaking at the night vigil I went to, it was a bit overwhelming. I think one thing I've learned from this is that a lot of things that are supposed to be healing are meant for people more detached from the trauma.

For me, walking in the 4th of July parade was what was surreal in a good way. As reporters, we're not used to being in the spotlight. It felt weird to have people cheering for us. But people were also crying, hugging us, and holding up signs with the names of our friends. It felt like the whole town was saying thank you. I hold that moment with me in my toughest times.

Vingold249 karma

Not a question, but as a local a d someone who follows the Capital closely, all of you are doing an amazing job with all that has happened. The community is behind you.

SeleneCapGaz135 karma

Thank you!

brittersbear132 karma

When you do a piece on shootings what do you think is most important to cover? Do you think focusing more on the victims or the shooter is imperative?

To me, I think the shooters get more coverage than the victims of their crimes and the reports should focus on them rather than the person that shot them.

SeleneCapGaz280 karma

In a major shooting, there are multiple stories. There are stories that have to be done about the shooter, and what we know about what led them to this. Does the shooter live in your neighborhood? How did they get their weapon? These are the kinds of things people need to know. Though you do have to be cautious in that coverage.

You have to be careful with the kinds of pictures you publish and how often you publish them. Editors need to ask themselves if they're publishing or posting photos of shooters because they're more likely to get clicks, or if it's because people need to know what that person looks like. Editors need to understand how traumatic it is for gun violence victims to see photos of shooters, especially ones accused of the shooting they went through. When those photos are used as featured images and randomly pop up on our feeds, or are the first thing we see on their site or in the paper, it's awful.

Sometimes in the heat of a big story, journalists also rely on lazy reporting. They call the shooter "lone" as if they're a wolf. My editor Rob, would always cut out unnecessary words. So if it is a shooter. You don't need to say "a lone shooter." "A" means one.

We prefer to focus on victims. We try to tell their stories and the stories of their loved ones who now have to grieve. When we have to write about our accused shooter, we try to publish photos of our five lost friends: Rob, Gerald, Wendi, John and Rebecca. And we always write their names. Those names are far more important than any shooter's.

lafgrams77 karma

What do you wish more people understood about journalism and your commitment to your profession (as opposed to resorting to calling news you don't like "fake news")?

SeleneCapGaz208 karma

I'd like people to think more critically about the news they prefer to consume, and be more thoughtful instead of dismissive. Sometimes people don't like the content of the news, so they defer to calling it fake or saying there's a bias. But if you do some digging, you could find that same piece of news from many other reliable sources-- maybe even your preferred news source.

We're here to tell the truth. There's a lot of people out there attacking us for that. Whether we write about a man stalking a woman he went to the local high school with or something the president said or did, we're just here to tell the truth so people can be informed.

Sometimes we do make mistakes, and those warrant corrections. For us, those are devastating. It's humiliating to announce our mistakes publicly, but we do it because we hold ourselves accountable as much as anyone else. Hold us to those corrections, but if you don't want to be informed don't attack us for it.

cahaseler56 karma

Have you guys made changes to your routines since the shooting? How does it affect the way you put out the paper? I can't imagine how it feels to go back and put out a newspaper after a nightmare like that. You guys are amazing.

SeleneCapGaz131 karma

Hi! Thank you for your kindness.

  1. So we're not in the same office anymore. We're in a discrete temporary office, working on getting a new permanent space in the next year.
  2. Since we lost about a third of our staff in the shooting, we've had help from volunteer reporters. We've had former Capital reporters come back as far and most recent as Kelcie Pegher from the LA Times. We've also taken a much greater consideration into covering the victims of mass shootings, rather than the shooter. Not to mention we've got to cover the upcoming trial.

JTC8046 karma

I can’t imagine what it was like going through what you went through and still getting a paper out the next day. What was it like to continue working in the midst of the attack? Given the shock of it all, how were you even able to write?

SeleneCapGaz101 karma

Chase Cook, Pat Furgurson, and Joshua McKerrow were on there right after the shooting. They contacted the reporters who were there, attended press conferences, talked to first responders and did all their reporting from the bed of Pat's pickup truck in the mall across the street that night. Honestly, I have no idea how they did it. But Chase tweeted, "Were' putting a damn paper out tomorrow," and somehow we did that.

The next day, I came into the Baltimore Sun office along with Chase and our editor, Rick Hutzell. We met with execs and tried to figure out what we were going to do. That day, I wrote this op-ed. PTSD, shock and grief were insane. At one point, I stabbed a box with a pair of scissors just to have some relief. But having the outlet to communicate how we're feeling and what's going on has been so healing and empowering. It's something not many of those affected by gun violence have, and I want to use it to empower them too.

SeleneCapGaz115 karma

From Josh, who is beside me, "We were working to tell the story of our friends. They would have done the same for us."

lula24888 karma

Whats is your favorite random fact you know?

SeleneCapGaz31 karma

In the Migos, Quavo is Takeoff's uncle, and Offset is Quavo's cousin. *mind blown*