The editor of the Capital Gazette, which won a special Pulitzer Prize citation for his coverage and courage in the face of a massacre in his newsroom, is leaving the Maryland newspaper.
Rick Hutzell, who worked at the Annapolis newspaper for more than three decades, wrote a farewell column that was posted on the newspaper’s website on Saturday morning.
Hutzell said he took a proposed buyout from the newspaper’s parent company. The Capital Gazette was owned by Tribune Publishing until it was acquired last month by hedge fund Alden Global Capital.
Hutzell was the newspaper’s editor when five employees were gunned down 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 have always enjoyed the work. But I became consumed with the idea that it was my goal to save the paper. A man with a shotgun tried to kill us – kill me and the newspaper I have devoted my life to for 33 years. I wasn’t going to let him die.
“Of course, it wasn’t my sole responsibility,” he continued. “With a group of very talented journalists and other employees in Annapolis, Baltimore and through Tribune Publishing, we have continued to publish.”
The article was published on time and won the Pulitzer citation.
The man behind the attack, Jarrod Ramos, had a long-standing grudge against the newspaper. He pleaded guilty but not criminally responsible by reason of insanity. A trial to determine whether he is criminally responsible is set to begin later this month.
Hutzell said he’s not sure what’s next. But he said the buyout was a chance for something new.
“I arrived at The Capital in October 1987 and quickly told editor Tom Marquardt that I planned to stay two years, then join the Associated Press and see the world,” he writes. “A love of my life, Chara, two kids, two houses, four dogs, two convertibles and a Pulitzer Prize later, clearly I had no idea what I was talking about.
“I wish I could say that everything went well and that I am retiring. But I don’t, and I am not.”