Derrick: Slain reporter spotlights journalism’s role 

Mainstreet correspondent Camille Broadway (left) and publisher J.C. Derrick at the Journalist Memorial in Washington, D.C.
J.C. Derrick, right, and Camille Broadway at the Journalist Memorial at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. in November 2011. (Courtesy Darrin Broadway)

Last month a shocking story emerged from Las Vegas: A local official was arrested for fatally stabbing a journalist who wrote negative stories about him.  

Thankfully, what happened in Vegas didn’t stay in Vegas. The story has spread around the country and even the world as more details have come into view.  

Here’s the quick version: In May, longtime investigative journalist Jeff German, 69, published stories in the Las Vegas Review-Journal detailing “turmoil and internal dissension” at the Clark County Public Administrator’s office, including an “inappropriate relationship” between Administrator Robert Tellis and a subordinate.  

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The turmoil described in the articles led one of the office’s veteran employees, Rita Reid, to challenge Tellis, her boss, in the Democratic primary in June. She won.  

German, who was reportedly working on follow-up stories about the administrator’s office, was found dead at his home on Sept. 2—the victim of at least seven stab wounds. Investigators arrested Tellis for the slaying on Sept. 6.  

As outlandish as this story might seem, it is sadly not a completely isolated incident. It was just four years ago that a gunman killed five and injured two at the Capitol Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, after it reported on negative information about him.  

Back in 2011, I visited the Journalists Memorial at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., with Camille Broadway and her husband, Darrin. I was struck by just how many journalists have died in the line of duty—enough to fill a large museum wall.  

Such danger may not materialize every day, but it does highlight the important role of journalists, who inform voters and the general public on critical issues. Here at Mainstreet, our reporters are pounding the pavement every day to bring you the news and information you need the most—as soon as possible.  

Last week, that meant reporter Seth Johnson and associate editor C.J. Gish were up until midnight publishing a story on the Alachua County Commission’s decision to keep the West End Golf Course zoned for recreational use. It often involves weekend work, too.  

Journalists, like everyone else, make mistakes, but that does not diminish this critical role. As Thomas Jefferson once put it: “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” 

Healthy communities have healthy news outlets. And healthy news outlets have experienced journalists with the necessary resources to accomplish their mission.  

If you would like to participate, please tell a friend about Mainstreet, do business with one of our advertisers, or use the “Support Us” button on our website to financially back our work. Or do all three.  

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