Changed by Newsroom Killings, Editor Leaves Maryland Paper

Capital Gazette won a Pulitzer citation for its courage in managing to keep publishing
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 19, 2021 3:10 PM CDT
Editor Leaves Paper That Kept Publishing After Killings
Editor Rick Hutzell, center, gives a speech to the staff, including Chase Cook, Nicki Catterlin, Rachael Pacella, Selene San Felice, and Danielle Ohl, at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, in 2019.   (Ulysses Muoz/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

The editor of the Capital Gazette, which won a special Pulitzer Prize citation for its coverage and courage in the face of a massacre in its newsroom, is leaving the Maryland newspaper. Rick Hutzell, who worked at the Annapolis paper for more than three decades, authored a farewell column that was published on the paper's website Saturday morning. Hutzell said he took a buyout offered by the newspaper's parent company, the AP reports. The Capital Gazette was owned by Tribune Publishing until it was sold last month to hedge fund Alden Global Capital. Hutzell was the paper's editor when five employees were shot to death in the newsroom in 2018. "The murder of my five friends, Rob Hiaasen, Gerald Fischman, Wendi Winters, John McNamara and Rebecca Smith, changed me,” he wrote on Saturday. "I always enjoyed the job. But I became consumed with the notion that it was my purpose to save the paper. A man with a shotgun tried to kill us—to kill me and the newspaper I've poured my life into for 33 years. I wasn't going to let it die."

"Of course, it wasn't my responsibility alone," Hutzell added. He credited his paper's journalists and Tribune employees elsewhere who helped. The paper published on schedule and won the Pulitzer citation. The attacker, Jarrod Ramos, had a long-running grudge against the newspaper. He has pleaded guilty but not criminally responsible due to insanity. A trial to determine whether he is criminally responsible is scheduled to begin this month. Hutzell said he's not sure what’s next. But he said the buyout represented a chance for something new. When he arrived at the paper in 1987, he said, he told the managing editor he'd stay "for two years and then join the Associated Press and see the world." That's not what happened. "I wish I could say it's all been grand, and I'm headed off to retirement," Hutzell wrote. "But it hasn't, and I'm not." You can read the full piece here.

(More Capital Gazette shooting stories.)

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