Charlie Hebdo terror attack leaves local cartoonist, reporter aghast

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Journalists around the world are reacting to a terrorist attack at a newspaper office in Paris that left 12 people dead and more injured.

Charlie Hebdo is a French newspaper known for a more provocative writing style. A Paris prosecutor said two gunmen entered the Charlie Hebdo offices at about 11:30 Wednesday morning, killing a police officer, then opening fire in the newsroom. The men left the building then shot another police officer. Twelve people died, 11 more were hurt and four of them were left in serious condition. Two of the deceased are police officers.

Steve Vockrodt is a reporter for The Pitch in Kansas City. His family is French and he’s familiar with Charlie Hebdo’s writing style.

“They’re kind of equal-opportunity offenders, if you will. Provocative is just the best word I can think of to describe it. I mean they kind of want to offend people and it’s very, some of it is crude and crass,” Vockrodt said.

Vockrodt says the attack has reaffirmed for him some of the danger journalists can face.

“Particularly among other journalists that I interact with, I think a lot of people are really shocked. Our whole business is supported by being able to have the freedom to publish things,” he said.

Lee Judge has worked is a political cartoonist for the Kansas City Star. He says the shootings deaths were also an attack on free speech.

“There’s reason we have a security guard. It’s always a possibility. Anyone who thinks they ought to be able to express their opinion freely without being attacked or murdered, ought to be very concerned about this,” Judge said.

"As everybody knows, newspapers and printed magazines have been struggling and I really think the public needs to support them. Even if you don’t agree with the Kansas City Star and a lot of people don’t, you want a watch dog in place. You want people who are investigating. You want people who are commenting and you want people having opinions. The problem for me is not Republicans, or Democrats, or liberals or conservatives. It’s extremism. And I think that’s what we saw yesterday, an extreme reaction to a cartoon.”

The publication’s attorney said the newspaper will print 1,000,000 copies of its next edition, more than usual. Investigators are looking for a set of French brothers. There are reports the men robbed a service station after the attack. A third man turned himself into police.

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