Littwin: My newspaper friend who was killed at the Capital Gazette was no one’s enemy

The Colorado Independent: My friend worked at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Md. My friend is dead. Shot by a madman with a gun that, in America, madmen can routinely legally possess.

My friend worked with me for a decade at the Baltimore Sun, where I wrote a column before I came to Denver. He was a newspaper character. His big brother is a famous newspaper character. He is the kind of person who populates newsrooms, not the kind you’re told is an enemy of the people. My friend Rob Hiaasen was, as far as I know, no one’s enemy.

I’ve worked in newsrooms all my adult life, and even before I was an adult. Newsrooms are a place for profane, off-kilter, wonderfully cynical, big-hearted, some not so big-hearted, newspaper-as-family people who, for the most part, and despite constant threats to the business, could never think of doing anything else.

A mutual friend, Michael Ollove, who worked with us at the Sun, wrote these words: “Rob Hiaasen was a sweet soul in a hard-nosed, cynical business. There wasn’t a better colleague or friend, generous, empathetic, supportive with a whimsical sense of humor that delighted readers and pals alike. There are no words to make this loss comprehensible.”

Rob Hiaasen was 59. The obits say he was a mentor to young journalists. I believe that. I knew him best when he was young and eager and already a very funny journalist with a decidedly quirky take on life, like the column he wrote not so long ago on a hard winter’s day about the joys of, yes, snow snorkeling. He left the Sun at some point — I don’t know the details, but I’ll assume his departure was another painful step in the long, long decline of daily newspapers — but got a job in nearby Annapolis as an editor and a Sunday mostly-humor columnist.

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