What follows are some of the thoughts and conversations from inside (and outside) the newsroom this week:
• In the middle of the attack, a lot of newsrooms, including this one, debated the proper word to describe what was happening: Protest? Demonstration? Insurrection?
Even as its reporters and photographers were being attacked and its equipment destroyed by the mob, The Associated Press sent out this guideline:
“Protest and demonstration refer to specific actions such as marches, sit-ins, rallies or other actions meant to register dissent. They can be legal or illegal, organized or spontaneous, peaceful or violent, and involve any number of people.”
Still, those words seemed inadequate to me. “Insurrection” — a violent uprising against authority — was the word used by U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and former President George Bush. Some papers used "Insurrection" in their headlines.
Our page designers settled on the word “Inevitable” for a headline, taken from a comment by U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb.: “Lies have consequences. This violence was the inevitable and ugly outcome of the president’s addiction to constantly stoking division.”
Looking for an accurate word, that was it.
• Watching video of journalists being attacked and threatened and their equipment being destroyed, I thought: This is the result of years of President Donald Trump calling the media the "enemy of the people." “Murder the Media” was scrawled on a door inside the Capitol. One journalist said, "I had three different people threaten to shoot me over the course of the day. ... At one point, a guy leaned over to me and said, 'I’m coming back with a gun tomorrow, and I’m coming for you.'"
The mob knew it had nothing to fear. Journalists working at the Capitol that day are heroes.
• Calls actually started coming in early Tuesday. Some wanted to know why all the letters that morning as well as a guest column by a former Joplin resident all lambasted U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., who had said just a few days earlier that he would object to the certification of the Electoral College vote. They thought we had stacked the deck.
No, I told them. That’s the way the letters came in. In the days following Hawley’s announcement, the letters were unanimously critical. We did not receive a letter defending Hawley’s decision until after the attack. If Hawley read the papers, he might have been able to read the tea leaves.
I view the editorial page as an open community forum, open to anyone as long as they play by the rules we’ve laid out, and I invite people to use it.
• Hawley's mistake was underestimating the depth of anger in America. He thought he could play to it, but he couldn't control it. His decision loosed that anger upon the Capitol. President Trump, urging people that morning to "fight like hell," did likewise, and he also may have misjudged the depth of the anger. This was from The Washington Post: "In private, the president has tried to rationalize his actions, saying he wanted only to encourage a large protest that would garner news coverage and rattle members of Congress — not for his supporters to actually storm the Capitol in the worst breach of its security since the War of 1812."
Some saw what happened Wednesday as a triumph. The guy in the horned helmet — his name is Jacob Anthony Chansley and he’s from Arizona, and on Wednesday, he made it all the way to the Senate chamber, where he grabbed an American flag and demanded Vice President Mike Pence show himself.
“In Chansley’s mind, Wednesday was a total victory for his cause,” National Review reported in its profile of the guy.
“We won by sending a message to the senators and the congressman,” Chansley said. “We won by sending a message to Pence.”
The anger, still there, is now emboldened.
• I talked to one Joplin man who had been at the Capitol but didn't go in. The person declined to be interviewed for a story but dismissed reports that antifa was involved.
"These people were not antifa; they were angry Americans." he said.
• Some folks wanted to know why we placed the story about Joplin businessman David Humphreys and Hawley on our front page on Friday morning. They don’t think Humphreys’ opinion is in itself newsworthy. The story was there because it captured Hawley’s fall from grace. A few weeks earlier, he was being mentioned as a possible 2024 presidential candidate. But last week, both Humphreys, who gave millions to Hawley, and former U.S. Sen. John Danforth, who lent his name to Hawley’s ambitions, were denouncing him. Danforth called his previous support for Hawley “the worst mistake I made in my life.”
I thought it also deserved that position in the newspaper because it highlights the struggle underway inside the Republican Party: Is it going to return to its traditional values or be remade by that anger?
The answer to that will have serious consequences for the country.
Andy Ostmeyer is the editor of The Joplin Globe. His email address is email@example.com.