Yes, of course I’m heartsick. What happened yesterday in Annapolis is simply appalling. I sometimes wonder how much the public knows about how exposed journalists are, and how common the sort of abuse Jarrod Ramos visited upon the Capital Gazette before his shooting spree really is.

It’s been years and years since I’ve worked for a newspaper, but in my experience, we saw guys like Ramos all the time. Most weren’t violent; in fact, none were. But that simmering layer of insanity? All the time.

When I worked the night shift in Columbus, a regular newsroom caller would rail about Queen Elizabeth to whoever would answer the phone. I don’t know who he was, or the names of the voices in his head, but he could go on and on. We were not encouraged to be cruel to callers, so most people just let him run on. One night, an editor picked up just as we were heading to dinner. He said, “OK, what do I need to know?” and put the receiver down on his desk. When we came back 45 minutes later, the guy was still talking.

A man who looked strangely like a brontosaurus (sorry, I know brontosauruses have a new name now, but I can’t think of it) — long, long neck and tiny head — started writing to me when I was a columnist, and dropped by the newsroom one day to chat, clearly with love on his mind. (He asked me to dinner.)

Another man apparently developed a crush on me after three phone calls and also dropped by the newsroom, clearly with love on his mind. (He brought flowers.)

Then there was the elderly man who came by to tell me about the good work done by his Kiwanis club, then started talking, with far more enthusiasm, about his fondness for at-home nudity, and his daily effort to make sure the early-arriving newspaper carrier got a good look at him through the bay window, on dark winter mornings. (“Did he have a boner?” Alan asked later.)

Yeah, all these people were harmless. A couple were pathetic. But none were 100 percent stable. One guy sent me his self-published book about police persecution, which he described as a nightly phenomenon. Another guy sent mash notes for a while, and when I failed to respond, switched to fuck-you-whore with an alacrity familiar to any woman who’s ever had a crazy boyfriend.

And here’s the thing: No one was really bugged by any of this. It’s part of what makes newsrooms more fun places to work than insurance agencies. Shitty pay, bad coffee and the nut of the morning. After a while, I would tell some callers, “Are you on medication? Have you taken your medication today? Why not? I think you need to take your medication and call me back in an hour.”

But as we all know now, the internet has taken harassment and one’s imaginary worlds into new, self-reinforcing places. It used to be hard to stalk someone; you used to have to do some legwork. Now it’s as easy as sending a friend request. The rhetoric around the business — you’ll hear more about enemies of the people and Milo in the next few days than you ever wanted to know — is reckless and criminal, and shouldn’t be tolerated.

We pause for a word from our sponsor:

Most of the newsrooms I’ve been in had some sort of security. None of it was very good security. I expect that will change now. And one more place a member of the public could saunter through without causing alarm will become locked-down, with visitor badges and sign-in sheets. We’ll all be lesser for it.

Two bits of bloggage today:

Here’s my first big piece for Deadline Detroit. It’s about a local radio station with an unusual promotion strategy. Speaking of harassment, read to the end.

I know a lot of you are friends of Bill and fans of country music. I liked this deep dive into country’s boozy subculture from the WashPost. The most interesting part was how much individual artists can make off liquor tie-ins, an important consideration for artists whose revenue streams are being stolen by the internet.

A very hot, very steamy weekend awaits. I hope to be sailing for the worst of it. Enjoy yours.

Posted at 9:12 am in Uncategorized |

37 responses to “Blood.”

  1. Jeff Borden said on June 29, 2018 at 9:50 am

    The rage that has settled over our nation isn’t going to dissipate in the near future when it is the driving emotion behind the Orange King and the rocket fuel that powers rightwing media from Fox News to Sinclair Broadcasting to Rush Limbaugh. Perhaps the Annapolis shooter would have done this regardless of the dangerous rhetoric flying around –he apparently had a hard-on for the paper separate from all the journalism bashing– but declaring the Fourth Estate an “enemy of the people” sure as hell doesn’t help. And the shithouse vermin on Fox already were blaming President Obama and Maxine Waters for the killings. All the exhortations to violence by the Orange King and many of his followers were, of course, ignored.

    I wonder what your friend who has invoked the horrors of the 1960s thinks today, Nancy.

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  2. Sherri said on June 29, 2018 at 9:50 am

    Glad the worst that happened is that you got called a white supremacist, Nancy.

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  3. Sherri said on June 29, 2018 at 10:37 am

    I think country music is just reflecting a wider trend of partying and booze. We’ve talked here about the differences in the college party booze scene now and when we were partaking. A WashPo article I read a few months ago was about boozy brunch crawls. A couple of months ago, I was trying to find a birthday card for my coach, a woman in her 30s. A lot of the cards involved jokes about wine or booze.

    I don’t have any problem going to an event and not drinking, but more and more events involve alcohol, and I’m seeing more events where the only alternative is plain water.

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  4. Paul Woodford said on June 29, 2018 at 11:23 am

    Grosse Point Nancy! I’d wear that with pride!

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  5. beb said on June 29, 2018 at 11:25 am

    Spending the day sailing sounds like a good idea and not just because of the heat. Get away from it all — no TV, no internet, no news. Just the ocassional Canadian cellphone spammer.

    I was sure the shooter was a Militia type who was just following Trump’s comments about the media. As it is I think Sean Hannity owes Maxine Walters a big and very public apology for claiming she was responsible for the shooting. That was a very deliberate defamation and has lead to credible threats on her life (She cancelled an appearance today because of it).

    I’m down in Indiana visiting my Dad. The political ads have only gotten worse since the primaries. Mike Braun is claiming Joe Donnelly is a job outsourcer while Donnelly claims that Braun is a millionaire who leeches off his workers and … outsources. And of course the ads are non-stop.

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  6. alex said on June 29, 2018 at 11:29 am

    I used to have a totally cavalier, sophomoric attitude toward booze and drugs until I aged out of them, and relatively late in life. I can’t say that I matured out of them. My poor tired bod just couldn’t handle it anymore.

    I don’t see any wider trend of partying and booze. Rather, I think those of us who aren’t part of that scene anymore are simply shocked at its in-your-faceness the farther we get away from it.

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  7. Jolene said on June 29, 2018 at 11:33 am

    Great piece, Nancy. Even without your admonition, I’d have read to the end. Always–well, at least often–interesting to learn about the odd things people are doing in corners of the world I hadn’t known about.

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  8. Icarus said on June 29, 2018 at 1:16 pm

    I just cannot. one of my college friends posted a MEME that has Trump nominating Obama for SCOTUS if he can provide documentation and I really want to comment one of the following:

    “seriously dude, you’ve hit a new low. This motherfucker called the press the enemy and we have 5 dead journalists in Annapolis. and you’re sharing stupid memes.”


    “I know we all have issues but I’m just saying that if your wife is banging the town drunk and you’re struggling to make a franchise shop successful, maybe posting racist memes isn’t the best use of your time. ”

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  9. Dorothy said on June 29, 2018 at 2:16 pm

    The writer who used to work at the Capital Gazette, an object of ire of the shooter, now works where my daughter used to work in Norfolk. My daughter is friends with the writer. The shooter is using a picture of that writer as his profile picture on Twitter. The writer and his wife had a daughter born just three weeks ago. We are all quite rattled in our family even though most of us did not know this writer. This is starting to get much too close to home, these workplace shootings.

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  10. David C. said on June 29, 2018 at 2:33 pm


    I sent a reporter an e-mail for the first time a couple of days ago. I was irritated by an article saying our fire department is getting infrared saunas to get rid of toxins from plastics burning. They said it would prevent cancers in fire fighters. I sent a couple of links showing it was nonsense. I was polite and the reporter sent a response saying she was only reporting that they bought the saunas and what the fire department spokesman said. It must have worked because they revised the story. I’m not too happy with the revision because it goes both sides on the subject. But it’s better than it was before.

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  11. Colleen said on June 29, 2018 at 2:44 pm

    Radio stations have their share of strange-but-we-hope-they-are-harmless groupies too. When I was working after 5, I locked the door as soon as I could. I figured if you needed to be in the place, you had a key. The commercial outfit I worked part time for was always on lockdown. You had to be buzzed in or have an electronic key fob.
    The place I was most concerned about a shooting was when I was working at the Y. Lots of people of varying mental stability levels came through there, and I was always surprised by how cranky so many of them were.

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  12. Heather said on June 29, 2018 at 3:09 pm

    I used to select and edit letters to the editor at the Chicago Reader in the 90s. We got some doozies and had some regular cranks, but I don’t recall any of them threatening violence. Times have definitely changed.

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  13. Jolene said on June 29, 2018 at 3:37 pm

    Several reporters have been posting examples of the death threats that are their daily fare on Twitter.

    Meanwhile, DJT has expressed his regrets and said that, like all Americans journalists deserve to be safe at work. Not sure if that only applies to those who work at small community newspapers or also to the enemies of the people in the national media.

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  14. brian stouder said on June 29, 2018 at 4:13 pm

    My dad always liked Dan Luzzader (Nancy’s predecessor, sort of, at the News-Sentinel), back in the day – and this may have set the template for me to think it normal to write a letter* to Madam Telling Tales, every so often.

    Local journalists are automatically high-impact (whether to genuine nut-balls, or star-struck John Q Public-types) – and (looking back on it) it must always be a bit strange, from their perspective, when interacting with their readers.

    I don’t think Fort Wayne Newspapers’ building had a whole lot of security back then – and one only hopes they have a bit more, nowadays.

    Elijah Lovejoy, unfortunately, shows that visceral hatred toward a genuinely free press is as American as apple pie.

    One question to ponder is – what is the opposite of “fake news”?

    I’d say “officially certified news” would be the logical opposite – and, from my viewpoint, would be just as unreal.

    The whole burden of staying informed and reading various (and possibly conflicting news stories and opinions) sources of news is upon We, the people – yes?

    I give Oxy-Rush his 5-10 minutes every so often (on the way back from lunch, usually), and even Shit-for-brains-Sean every once in a great while…and therefore have learned a little of their language (“deep state”, for example…which seems to be a genuinely know-nothing strain of non-thought, which is as American as apple pie).

    Forward we go – like it or not – and for better or worse

    * “letter”, in the classic sense; paper/typewriter (and typos!), envelope, postage stamp, mail-box….and then maybe making it into the Saturday column….and maybe even getting a mailed-reply – also including corrected typos! It really seemed – in a true sense – to be an intimate interaction. And of course, I was crushin’ on her, too!

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  15. Dexter Friend said on June 29, 2018 at 4:54 pm

    When workplace shootings became commonplace, Eaton Corporation remodeled the H.R. offices, turning the place into a secure fortress. No visibility, press a button, talk, and if you needed to hand over some paperwork you’d be buzzed through, maybe, maybe not. A year ago the local bank here took the window out of the drive-up. Walmart never put one in for pharmacy drive-up business. No sense of giving employees up for targeted murders.

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  16. Deborah said on June 29, 2018 at 5:13 pm

    When I started working at an architecture firm in 1981 in downtown St. Louis we always had card access beyond the reception area. At that time I assume it was to deter theft not to keep shooters out. Other places I have worked in St. Louis and Chicago didn’t have card access until after hours.

    On my way back to Santa Fe from Abiquiu this morning the only radio station I could get was some right wing nonsense, I listened for about 5 minutes, it was about SCOTUS, the talkers were ecstatic, gleeful, static kept me from hearing much more, not that I wanted to.

    What is this world coming to?

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  17. ROGirl said on June 29, 2018 at 6:14 pm

    When I started my job in March we had to take some online training for hazardous chemicals, workplace harassment, and what to do when there is an active shooter.

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  18. Suzanne said on June 29, 2018 at 6:16 pm

    My husband is reading this book:

    Says it’s very enlightening.

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  19. Bill said on June 29, 2018 at 6:25 pm

    Dave Barry on the Annapolis killings.

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  20. Jolene said on June 29, 2018 at 7:05 pm

    The NYT wants to hear your thoughts on your local paper.

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  21. alex said on June 29, 2018 at 8:42 pm

    We got some doozies and had some regular cranks, but I don’t recall any of them threatening violence.

    And then there was the mob that showed up when the Reader ran a cartoon of Dorothy Tillman in men’s underpants.

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  22. Sherri said on June 30, 2018 at 10:25 am

    What Rebecca Traister said.

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  23. alex said on June 30, 2018 at 1:16 pm

    Anyone here have any experience with iCloud storage?

    Lately I’ve been getting messages telling me I’ve run out of iCloud storage and need to buy more. So I went onto Apple forums and learned all of the workarounds, turning off apps I don’t use, saving my photos to PhotoStream instead of iCloud, etc. It hasn’t diminished the amount of gigabytes used up by one whit. And now my iCloud e-mail has apparently been suspended until I pay their ransom.

    It wasn’t that long ago that I cut Verizon off from charging me for cloud storage, which is completely unneeded if you have iCloud (not that the folks at Verizon would ever tell you that). 99 cents a month for extra gigabytes isn’t a big hardship, I suppose, but these fuckers are pissing me off.

    Oh, and I just did a software update on my iPhone a few days ago. It changed a whole bunch of settings and it’s also barely holding a charge now. Way to go Apple.

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  24. Deborah said on June 30, 2018 at 2:50 pm

    Well damn, we showed up for the protest at 11 only to find out it has been changed to the state Capitol at 6:30 this evening and I had already made plans back in Abiquiu. We had our painted t-shirts and everything. LB needs to find someone who will drive her as she’s still in the wheel chair.

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  25. Diane said on June 30, 2018 at 4:11 pm

    Sherri’s link @22 is well worth the read. Sherri, thank you for posting it.

    I went to my first March ever today. I was surprised and happy to see how many people turned up in my small mountain town and even more surprised at how many people driving by honked their horns and waved in support and how few showed any negative response. One woman in a shiny black SUV with Texas license plates threw out a “f**k you” but there wasn’t much more.

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  26. Dexter Friend said on June 30, 2018 at 4:13 pm

    Alex, my tech issue is lesser…I am a Android man and ever since I took my Samsung Galaxy tablet to Columbus and returned, my Spectrum ap for TV keeps freezing and telling me certain channels are currently unavailable. I don’t watch a lot of TV on it, but that’s what it’s for: you need to check a World Cup score until you can get to a regular TV and the damn thing freezes and drops off…three cancel-outs and re-installs later, same goddam thing.

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  27. basset said on June 30, 2018 at 6:20 pm

    Big social evening at the house tonight, two neighbor couples will join us, Basset Jr and his SO to eat and watch a movie. Food theme is no recipe, nothing you have to look up. Movie was going to be the 1931 “Frankenstein” but one of the participants is “allergic” to horror movies… then someone suggested “Young Frankenstein” but I refuse to watch any Mel Brooks… we settled on the original “Manchurian Candidate.” I have a big bottle of gin.

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  28. Deborah said on June 30, 2018 at 7:06 pm

    Here’s something I find surprising, that millennials aren’t that motivated to be politically active. Why is that? When I think of the 60s and how motivated we were to march etc, I’m surprised how today’s young people aren’t. Do they think it’s useless? Are they not hopeful? They have been given the short end of the stick after the Great Recession. Are they bitter?

    LB is having a hard time finding a ride to the protest at the state Capitol from her young friends. Nobody seems interested. Why is that? I really don’t get it.

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  29. Julie Robinson said on June 30, 2018 at 8:53 pm

    Don’t count them out, Deborah! I have great hope for the future based on my kids and their friends. They’re very politically active and have frequently marched and protested. One is a millennial, one a bit older. Today they didn’t attend because they were in disaster response training most of the day. It’s we baby boomers who gave up on politics and let the current incumbents get elected.

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  30. Mark P. said on June 30, 2018 at 9:14 pm

    Sherri, I’m an old, white male and I believe two things. The first is that this country is headed to a very bad place. The second is that white males cannot, or will not, save it. My only hope is that people of color will do it for us. I will rejoice when white males no longer run things.

    Not that I think people of color are inherently better or more moral than white males, but they’ve seen the bad places already and I firmly believe that whatever it is they want for themselves, it will benefit me as well.

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  31. Deborah said on June 30, 2018 at 11:21 pm

    Thanks Julie, I needed that. I also read some things that Obama said recently about bringing young people in and giving them power. Maybe we need to hand over the reigns and do things differently than we would do it. I really hope that is the case, but then I remember listening to the naïveté of the young Bernie bros in 2016 who refused to vote for Clinton and I wonder.

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  32. Deborah said on June 30, 2018 at 11:52 pm

    Good advice, I’m gonna try this

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  33. Sherri said on July 1, 2018 at 12:22 am

    Just found out that one of the victims killed in Annapolis was the brother of our deputy city administrator.

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  34. Dexter Friend said on July 1, 2018 at 3:26 am

    I think it was The Detroit News that carried the Callahan cartoon daily. Callahan passed away some years back, but Gus Van Sant made a movie about him, his alcoholism, his paralyzed state due to a car wreck / drunken driving episode. “Don’t Worry, He won’t Get Far on Foot” is the title. Joaquin Phoenix, Jonah Hill. The title is actually a Callahan one-frame :

    Tonight I watched Woody Allen’s masterpiece, “Midnight in Paris”…Beautiful Parisian photography, Owen Wilson’s best acting ever, funny as hell punch lines. All you need is a basic understanding of the literati of the 1920s and dash of knowledge of The Gay Nineties to have a ball watching this fantastic movie.

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  35. David C. said on July 1, 2018 at 6:31 am

    Mark P. you might just get your wish. Nothing would make me happier than to see Stacey Abrams become Governor of Georgia, except seeing tinyhands and family go into exile in Russia and watch Putin dispose of them like used tissues.–regional-govt–politics/black-and-democratic-voters-gain-republicans-georgia/TCkvHmtpJ90NsGZTUMwJPK/

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  36. Heather said on July 1, 2018 at 11:38 am

    Went to the Families Belong Together march in Chicago yesterday–estimates of about 60K, one of the biggest in the country, apparently. It was incredibly hot but people were passing out water, Gatorade, and snacks, and the fire department set up a fan that blew water droplets onto the crowd while we marched. The vibe was really positive and peaceful. My friend said, “Maybe this is the new way everyone hangs out socially–we just go to marches every weekend.” I wish we didn’t have to though.

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  37. Julie Robinson said on July 1, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    I have to correct myself–the disaster response training was earlier in the week and our son had rehearsal, but our daughter protested and was interviewed by one of the local TV stations. She identified herself as a pastor and spoke about injustice. In the clip they used she said “regardless of the political process we need to be caring for the most vulnerable among us”.

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