When I was a newspaper reporter, it never would have occurred to me that a gunman could enter the building where I worked and gun me down for an article I wrote.

Five staff at a Maryland newspaper were killed yesterday and two injured by a gunman. The gunman had sued the newspaper over a column written in 2011 about his guilty plea to criminal harassment. His suit was dismissed. The judge noted that the gunman was factually charged with a crime to which he pleaded guilty.

These are already difficult times to be a news reporter. I can’t imagine how news of this shooting was received by those who report the news. Reporters in other countries have been killed because of articles they’ve written about corrupt governments or drug cartels. But I never thought reporters in the U.S. would be gunned down.

Although it’s been a long time since I was a reporter, I can still remember times when people were upset with the articles I wrote. Once, a man called crying saying I’d ruined his life because I wrote about his DUI conviction.

I quoted a source in a city department about the city’s growing financial inability to meet the infrastructure demands of developments sprouting like mushrooms. Developers called the newspaper’s publisher demanding I write the other side of the story. I refused saying the facts were the facts. They then spread rumors that I was having an affair with the source.

Someone told me at a party once (after finding out that I was a reporter) that I was about as welcome as a NARC.

Professional journalists and a free press are vital to our democracy. Our founding fathers recognized that and wrote it into our constitution.

Sophocles wrote in Antigone that “no one loves the messenger who brings bad news.”

Hard times indeed to be a news reporter.