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Journalists took to social media during -- and after -- deadly shooting in newsroom

BALTIMORE -- Amid a devastating attack that killed five people at a historic Maryland newspaper, journalists at the paper took to social media to seek help and report on the fatal shooting. In the immediate aftermath of Thursday's shooting, they identified who was safe and voiced their first waves of grief.

They also used social media to explain journalism's truth-telling mission, trying to demystify what journalists do in an era when they're often attacked as spreading "fake news."

News of the Thursday massacre began with a chilling tweet sent at 2:43 p.m. by a reporter at The Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland's capital. Intern Anthony Messenger told NBC's "Today" show that he handed his phone to another reporter, who tweeted: "Active shooter 888 Bestgate please help us." Amid the chaos, reporter Selene San Felice had the bearings to share the newsroom's street address.

Later in the day, as he waited to be interviewed by investigators, the Annapolis newspaper's crime and courts reporter tweeted that a "single shooter shot multiple people at my office, some of whom are dead." The reporter, Phil Davis, revealed the gunman "shot through the glass door to the office."

In a subsequent tweet, Davis said he heard the sound of the gunman reloading what authorities later said was a shotgun.

Photojournalist Paul W. Gillespie, who was in the newsroom when the attack began, tweeted that he was untouched physically but was "a mess" mentally.

At a time when journalists are frequently denigrated, Capital Gazette editor Jimmy DeButts tweeted after the attack to tell the public that the newspaper's staff are guided daily by a "passion for telling stories from our community." They do the work without any expectation of "big paydays," he wrote.

In a series of tweets, DeButts tried to explain what hardworking journalists actually do day after day.

As investigators tried to piece together what happened, photojournalist Josh McKerrow shared his unshakeable resolve to keep The Capital Gazette publishing for his Annapolis community, tweeting: "There will be a Capital Friday."

Chase Cook, a reporter, was more blunt. He tweeted: "I can tell you this: We are putting out a damn paper tomorrow."