Fridayâ€™s Opinion section in the Capital consisted of only 56 words, centered around five names. It was a spare and eloquent â€“ and heartbreaking - tribute to those lost in the tragedy that had befallen this storied newspaper the day before, and to the kind of journalism the newspaper embodies.
The five names were those of the dedicated professionals who came to the Capitalâ€™s newsroom Thursday for the last time, their lives ended allegedly by a man police say had waged a long-running vendetta against the newspaper.
The attacker fired buckshot through the Capitalâ€™s glass doors, shattering lives in the most horrific assault on journalists in the United States in decades.
If there is anything to be thankful for in this carnage, it is that the shooter did not have a gun with a high-capacity magazine that would have enabled him to murder many more.
The victims offered a cross-section of what makes a good local newspaper tick.
These men and women are the face of American newspapering, because community papers are where so much original journalism actually happens. As Post media columnist Erik Wemple noted, there are only 600 journalists in the White House Correspondentsâ€™ Association but 32,000 editorial jobs at newspapers across the country.
The thousands get little credit, less glamour and generally paltry salaries as they cover football games, city council meetings and restaurant openings. But they do essential work.
Murdering people for doing this valuable job is particularly despicable. And it came at a time when the president routinely vilifies reporters for doing their jobs.
The final words of the Capitalâ€™s Friday editorial aptly explain why the latter stance is more appropriate: â€śTomorrow this page will return to its steady purpose of offering our readers informed opinion about the world around them, that they might be better citizens.â€ť