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For obvious reasons, last week’s deadly mass shooting at the offices of The Capital Gazette, a community newspaper in Maryland, struck a nerve with all of us who live and breathe local journalism.

Our hearts go out to the five members of The Capital Gazette who were gunned down in cold blood by just another of the many gun-toting madmen who’ve rained death and grief upon our country in recent years.

The shooting happened at a time in our country in which the free press is under constant attack from the president and his many supporters. Just days before the massacre, President Trump branded the press as “the enemy of the American people” before a crowd at one of his many rallies. Similar slanders against journalism in America have been oft repeated by Trump and his many boosters on right-wing media outlets and social media networks.

The Capital Gazette massacre apparently stemmed from one man’s deranged grudge against the publication which goes back several years. That motive, however, does not excuse the hateful and inflammatory lies the president and his followers have perpetuated against the press of this country for too long.

It evolved from accusations of “liberal media” bias from loudmouths who didn’t like what they were hearing on TV or reading in the papers, to Trump’s constant “enemy of the people” slander, to the re-emergence of the German word lugenpresse (lying press), a Nazi term used by many right-wing trolls today.

The Founding Fathers codified in the Constitution the importance of the press. Indeed, it’s important not only to the survival of our republic, but the survival of communities.

We’re here to be your eyes, ears and even the voice on the issues affecting you in government, in your neighborhood, in your school district, even on your block. We’re here to inform, investigate, enlighten and educate about the world you live in.

Sometimes the truth can be painful or inconvenient; not every story can have a happy ending. But without the press, the world is a fantasyland molded by powerful individuals who create their own truth and do not care about your life, liberty or happiness.

We are not the enemy. These repeated attacks on the press in our country are intolerable, disgraceful and un-American to the core.

An attack on one outlet is not only an attack on every media outlet, but also an attack on all of us — and all of you — as free-speaking Americans.

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