Former Capital Gazette Sports Editor Remembers John McNamara
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
Jerry Jackson is a sports editor at The Baltimore Sun. He used to work at the Capital Gazette. And that is where he hired a reporter named John McNamara. Jerry Jackson joins me now. Hey there.
JERRY JACKSON: How are you?
KELLY: I'm all right. Thank you. I want to start by asking, how did you hear about the events unfolding, about what was happening yesterday?
JACKSON: Well, I actually was getting ready to go to work, and my cellphone had several missed calls. And it was from our offices in Baltimore telling us that there was an active shooter in Annapolis. And they knew that, you know, I had had a long tenure there and knew a lot of people. So I started immediately - like any journalist started calling people to see if I could find some things. And the second phone call I made I found out that one of my dearest friends had died. And, you know, it was pretty rough.
KELLY: Yeah. And this is John McNamara.
JACKSON: Yes. Yes. He and I worked together for more than 20 years. Our desks abutted one another. John was the rock of his family. And he and I had a great deal in common. We're both from big Catholic families. He was the oldest of seven. I'm one of nine. So we just...
KELLY: You clicked.
JACKSON: Yeah, we clicked immediately.
KELLY: Why'd you hire him in the first place? What'd you see in him?
JACKSON: Well, he was on our news desk first. And he loved sports. And we were always talking sports. And he really wanted to write sports. That was his passion. He was - loved the University of Maryland and just was an absolute basketball freak. And he took a job at a smaller publication because it was in sports. And when we had an opening, he was the first person I thought of not only because of his journalism abilities but because I knew what a good person he was.
And, you know, when you're going to hire somebody on a staff the size of ours, which was back then about five to six people, you need people that can get along with people. And he was just a tremendous person. Everybody got along with him great. And basketball was a particular passion of his, and he still played it a couple times a week.
KELLY: Oh, really?
JACKSON: Yes. We used to have...
KELLY: Like a rec league or something?
JACKSON: Yeah. Yeah. He played pickup ball. We used to play - a bunch of us at the paper played every Thursday at lunch before a few of us got a little too old.
JACKSON: But John continued to play in some form or fashion because he - oh, he just loved basketball.
KELLY: May I ask when you last talked to him?
JACKSON: Just last week. You know, we worked side by side for 20-some years, and now I'm in a department that's 40 minutes away. And we usually get together once a year to go to an Oriole game. And we were trying to decide on which day was best. And, you know, unfortunately, we hadn't gotten together on a date yet this year.
KELLY: May I ask, given you worked at the Capital Gazette for 20 years yourself, what went through your head when you saw the front page today?
JACKSON: I was just stunned. I knew that The Sun would put out a publication, but I was just blown away that Capital would still produce a paper. You know, it just blows you away that - that kind of dedication and commitment to putting out local news.
KELLY: Jerry Jackson, thank you.
JACKSON: No problem.
KELLY: And I'm sorry for your loss.
JACKSON: Thank you.
KELLY: That is Jerry Jackson, now of The Baltimore Sun, formerly of the Capital Gazette. He was speaking there about his friend and colleague John McNamara, who died yesterday. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.