In Honor of the Journalists Slain by Terrorists in Paris, Je Suis Charlie!

A special message from Rocky Mountain PBS CEO Doug Price:

It is our policy at Rocky Mountain PBS to be very thoughtful with our e-mails to you. Under ordinary circumstances they should be scheduled rather than spontaneous. Unfortunately today is not a normal day for any organization that is rooted in journalism and the service it provides to our public.

Deadly Attack On French Satirical Magazine Charlie Hebdo In Paris

Marc Piasecki / Getty Images

Officers examine the vehicle used by terrorists abandoned in Rue de Meaux on January 7, 2015 in Paris, France. Gunmen have attacked french satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and killed 12 people including 2 police officers.

Today, 12 people in Paris lost their lives not for what they did, but for what they said. The murdered journalists and their bodyguards worked for the French satirical magazine called Charlie Hebdo. The gunmen are thought to be radical Islamic terrorists who attacked during the magazine’s daily editorial meeting.

After deliberation, our team at Rocky Mountain PBS felt a responsibility to speak to you about this loss of life and the context it holds for us.

Many of you know from my past monthly letters that I grew up in France, the son of an American serviceman.  My connection to France has continued, and I am the only board member of the French-American Foundation in New York who is responsible for a journalism organization.

As I awoke to the NPR newsfeed on KUVO at 6 a.m., I had two very mixed emotions. The first was sadness at the tragic loss of life that reporting now tells us was terrorism targeted at journalists. The second was great pride. When we merged with I-News two years ago, we made an explicit decision to serve our audience by providing journalism – and most particularly investigative journalism – that many commercial newsrooms struggle to offer in this changing media landscape.

It took me somewhat by surprise that reporting takes as much courage as it does. Speaking truth to power is not a simple task, and candidly, as the CEO of this enterprise, I have felt occasional anxiety as we published stories I knew would be controversial, and ruffle the feathers of people I considered to be friends or antagonize those I knew could be strident foes.

Rocky Mountain Public Broadcasting Network now employs more than a dozen journalists and has a similar number using our newsroom as their base of operations. Today I recognize their courage in a way I had not understood before. There are real consequences when it comes to reporting and not all of them revolve around the positive impact a great story can generate.

I’d like to take this opportunity to salute the journalists here and elsewhere. Through serious reporting or, as is the case with Charlie Hebdo, very funny satire, they defend democracy and lift the culture.

I’d also like to express my pride in you, our members. Just a few weeks ago, Rocky Mountain PBS and KUVO quietly surpassed the milestone of having 70,000 combined members. The key question you should ask yourself as a donor is ‘does my contribution matter?’  The average gift of our 70,000 members is slightly over $100each year. Each donation buys an insurance policy that we will be able to produce and deliver trusted news and programming.

No one should lose a life over the words they write, yet, in today’s world, it happens. 

Je suis CHARLIE

Je suis CHARLIE

The image at right was Tweeted by our most prolific journalist, KUVO’s Steve Chavis, moments after he heard of the tragedy. Its depiction of a pencil defending against a gun says it all. 

I-News contributing journalist Mary MacCarthy, who was an anchor in Paris for several years, tells me that almost all the journalists she knows have changed their social media profile pictures to this photo to honor those who lost their lives in defense of freedom of speech this morning. In honor of them and in honor of you, who make our speech possible, I will do the same. Je suis Charlie.

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