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First, I have a confession.

It’s an awful realization, but they say the first part of solving a problem is admitting that you have one. And we definitely have one.

I’ve become numb to school shootings.

If that sounds inhumane, that’s because it is. It’s something that I don’t want you to know about me, but I have to admit it to myself if I want things to get better. I have to start feeling the outrage again.

It’s terrible that something so awful—the mass murder of schoolchildren—has happened so often that we’ve slowly gotten to the point where they blend together, each event a nondescript, indistinct headline. If we can’t differentiate between them anymore, we have all gone numb.

I say “we” because I know I’m not alone. And our compound indifference makes everything that much worse. So many of us, when confronted with the news that seems to ring out with all too often, react with “Dang. That sucks. Not again.” And then we pause for maybe five seconds and go about our respective days. By now, we’re able to get over it so quickly, it’s almost as if it never happened. Wouldn’t that be good news?

Maybe school shootings don’t get to me because I don’t have kids.

Or maybe because I don’t see myself as a defenseless kid anymore. Maybe I’m too detached from it all. Maybe my empathy and humanity have ugly, selfish limits. Maybe it’s my millenial attention span. Maybe the pain and suffering of kids and parents—two groups to which I don’t identify—don’t hit home for me.But Thursday’s shooting in an Annapolis newsroom hit home.

Maybe it’s because I was sitting in a newspaper office when I heard the news. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent long days and nights interning in a newspaper office. Maybe it’s because the people in that office are some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met.

Thursday, I could identify with the five victims of the shooting at the Capital Gazette. Five people just minding their business and doing their jobs. Doing the very job I foresee myself doing one day.

Thursday’s shooting made me think about the journalists with whom I sit in the office of The Northeast Georgian now. Innocent people who work hard. Quietly going about their business, serving their community with news and their families with a paycheck. People who have been incredibly nice to me as a new intern.

I think about the people at The Dahlonega Nugget who have become my family over the last 2 years. My mentors who taught me all about what it means to be a good journalist. Journalists who would give up their right arms for a story and left arms to help a friend. These people are my family.

In my experience, every newspaper office is a similarly crazy and tight-knit, family.

Which means that the five newspaper workers that lost their lives on Thursday had more than just first and last names. They also had friends and family just like the newspaper workers that are near and dear to my heart. That hits home.

I think about the people who watched their friends in their last moments on Earth. One minute they’re at work and it’s one day from the weekend, and the next they’re mourning the loss of several de facto family members.

I think about the reporters who found themselves already at the scene of the story, where being first to the news wasn’t a good thing.

I think about the editor who had to read about the murder of their friends, only able to fix the grammatical wrongs of the writer and not the moral wrong of the shooter.

I think of the layout designer who had to wait until after deadline to grieve, because they had to design the most important front page of their career.

I think of the publisher who always wanted a larger audience, but never imagined this would be the way they would be drawing readers.

I think of the stories that they had in the works that will never be told now.

But I also think about how this woke me up from my numbness. And I think about whether their story could be the start of a new story, one of peace, where the violence gets left on the cutting room floor. Now wouldn’t that be good news?

Jake Cantrell

11 in a 21-year old body with an 81-year old soul. Just trying to follow God, wear neat socks and be 1 percent less worse than yesterday."

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