Categories Op/Ed

Letter to the Editor: Could Annapolis Shooting Be Repeated in Elizabethtown?

On Tuesday, June 28, a man entered the newsroom of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md., killing five people and wounding two others. In The New York Times on June 29, I read the following article: “Maryland Shooting Suspect Had Long-Running Dispute with Newspaper” by Timothy Williams and Amy Harmon. The Capital Gazette is a community newspaper company. The Elizabethtown Advocate is our community newspaper located in a little storefront office at 9 S. Market St. in the central business district of our town. In the Times article it had a comment section asking readers to “Tell Us About Your Community Newspaper.” I told the Times, “Elizabethtown once had its own newspaper — The Elizabethtown Chronicle — from shortly after the Civil War until early 2009, when the Journal Register conglomerate that owned it went belly up and shut the paper down.” I told the Times how Dan Robrish scrimped and sacrificed to start a newspaper in a town of 12,000 with no newspaper. I told the Times how he singlehandedly built the paper up to a circulation of 1,000. Then because of his hard work, journalistic abilities, and efforts the Lancaster newspaper LNP saw the value of our local community paper and bought it. This gave Mr. Robrish a living wage. The LNP bundles The Elizabethtown Advocate with a subscription to its Sunday paper increasing the Advocate’s circulation to 6,000. This history isn’t known by everyone in our town but it should be. If you want to read a great story type in, “Dan Robrish Is Aliveand Well and Living in Elizabethtown” into yourweb browser and you will learn “How a former Philly AP newsman is single-handedly

trying to save the newspaper business.”

The Capital Gazette shooting should be a reminder to all of us, as subscribers or readers of the Advocate, that journalism is not without its dangers. I left town on Sunday, July 1, to travel to the Cincinnati area. It was our family vacation to visit “The Creation Museum” and Noah’s “Ark Encounter.” Before leaving I thought about writing a letter to the editor expressing my concern for the safety of those who work at the Advocate. I didn’t write it but I continued to follow the details of the murders in the Annapolis newsroom in USA Today on July 5. In an article by Trevor Hughes titled “Suspect’s threats spoke volumes, Legal system grapples with words vs. action” James Ramos “left a years-long trail of harassment, threats and contemptuous behavior. There were dozens of warning signs that he might turn violent ― including repeated threats of killing a journalist.”

As a boy I often went hunting for rabbits, pheasants, and quail with my dad using a double-barrel shotgun. A shotgun does not leave much room for error; you point and pull the trigger. This was a heinous crime, hateful and shockingly evil. I got back into town on July 9 and immediately went to my mailbox, which was stuffed with mail. I quickly sorted through it and pulled out my weekly subscription to The Elizabethtown Advocate. I turned to the editorial page and there was only one letter to the editor. Not one person expressed concern for those that work at our local community newspaper. Please pray for our editor and the reporters who bring you the news each week knowing their lives could be in danger.

It is not a stretch of the imagination, in our society today, to think that an editorial on the opinion page or an article run in the Advocate such as the one on Thursday, June 21, headlined “Trial Date Set for Former Teacher Charged With Corruption of Minors,” with the name and picture of the accused, could cause a grudge against those that work for the paper.

Civil order is at stake ― when a free press is imperiled by violence. Thank you Dan Robrish and to your staff for your courage, dedication and commitment in publishing The Elizabethtown Advocate weekly. Please write a letter to the editor and tell him you will keep him and his staff in your payers. If you don’t pray, then wish them well.



About the author