Plain Dealer Staff, Citizens Rally for Journalism in Wake of Capital Gazette Shooting


Plain Dealer Editor George Rodrigue delivers remarks at the community tribute to journalism, (7/5/2018). - SAM ALLARD / SCENE
  • Sam Allard / Scene
  • Plain Dealer Editor George Rodrigue delivers remarks at the community tribute to journalism, (7/5/2018).
Members of the Plain Dealer editorial and production staff, current and former representatives of the local press corps and members of the community convened for a tribute to local journalism at the PD's printing facility on Tiedeman Road Thursday night.

The rally was scheduled one week to the day after five employees of the Capital Gazette were killed in a mass shooting in Annapolis, Maryland. It was organized by members of the Plain Dealer News Guild with support from the paper's leadership. It honored those who lost their lives in the shooting while celebrating the vital ongoing work of local journalists.

Ginger Christ, a PD healthcare reporter and vice-chair of the guild, said the event was organized in part because she and her colleagues had been grappling with how best to respond to the tragic events last week.

"I've received threats, and I feel like everyone in this industry has received threats," she said in remarks to the gathering, "but it feels like those threats have taken on a different tone in the past few years. They're angrier. They're filled with vitriol. It's just kind of an uglier conversation that we're having. And that's concerning. We are the media, but we're not the enemy. We're the people who live in this community. We're your friends and your neighbors."

Bill Meyer, a PD copy editor and guild member, said it was important to remember that journalism is dangerous work.

"I would ask today that we, as journalists and as the community members who support responsible local journalism, collectively gird ourselves with truth as an overarching value," he said, "and armor ourselves against all attacks by rededicating ourselves to the fearless pursuit of what is right, what is just and what is fair."

A resident named Loretta Geyer spoke as well. She said that her son, Joshua, worked in sales at the Capital Gazette and sat a desk next to one of the women, Rebecca Smith, who was killed. Joshua was unharmed, having left the building shortly before the shooter walked in, but Loretta said she felt compelled to attend the local tribute.

"It's very heartbreaking," she said. "I wanted to be here to honor Wendi and Rebecca and Rob and Gerald and John. And I just wanted to thank all of you in journalism who are here for what you do every day."

Thursday, newsrooms held a moment of silence to honor the victims. 

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