We are not a faceless enemy. Nikki Delamotte showed the heart and humanity of journalism: Chris Quinn

November 14, 2018

We are not a faceless enemy. Nikki Delamotte showed the heart and humanity of journalism: Chris Quinn

We’re all devastated this week at cleveland.com about the shooting death of our colleague, Nikki Delamotte. We never imagined we’d be covering the killing of one of our own, and we’ve been fumbling about in the haze of grief, not quite believing that she’s gone.

In the weeks before she died, I’d been thinking about Nikki a good bit, as the ideal vehicle for a piece that had been rolling around in my head, a response to President Donald Trump’s oft-repeated charge that the news media are the enemy of the people.

As the leader of a significant news operation, I’ve felt a need to push back on that ridiculous statement. I’d been thinking the best way to do that would be to talk to you about some of the people who comprise the media team here. Nikki’s was the face I kept seeing.

Trump is not the first leader to seek to avoid accountability to the American public by discrediting the media reporting on his foibles, but his attacks have been more Orwellian than most. He wants you to see us as a nameless, faceless institution that is indifferent to the public and aiming to undermine the nation.

We are not nameless and faceless, however. You need look no further than the continuing outpouring of tributes to Nikki to see that. Hundreds of people have taken to social media to talk about how they were touched by her gentle soul. Nikki loved being part of the media, telling stories about Cleveland and introducing you to no end of fascinating people who live among us. She championed the city and its culture. She was the enemy of nobody.

Anne Nickoloff, Nikki Delamotte and Troy Smith

Or see the face of Nikki’s good friend, entertainment reporter Troy Smith. He’s been with cleveland.com for five years and has a unique ability to tap into subjects that go viral. People spend more time with Troy’s content, I think, than with content by anyone else on our site. Troy has had more than his share of heartache over the years, but he has persevered, coming to work every day in service to you, making your days a bit more interesting and fun. He is the enemy of nobody.

Laura Johnston headshot Dave Petkiewicz, cleveland.com  David Petkiewicz petkiewicz.com

Laura Johnston is another face of the media in Cleveland. She’s a perpetually cheerful presence in the newsroom, a mom and wife who is passionate about writing. She has covered many beats as reporter and was part of the team that covered county corruption. She has since become a strong manager, and lately she quarterbacked interest in Lake Erie at the helm of our Rock The Lake website. She is unfailingly courteous, and I regularly get feedback from people who tell me they love dealing with her. She is the enemy of nobody, except, maybe, the foolish individual who gets in her way on a beach glass hunt.

Mark Vosburgh

And consider Mark Vosburgh, a guy I’ve worked with, in two different states, since 1990. A man more honorable you will not meet. He’s a devoted husband to his wife, JoAnn, and in more than four decades as a journalist, he has tackled every story on his plate – as a reporter and editor – with a singleminded dedication to accuracy and clarity. He wants to make sure the community gets as clear a picture of what’s happening as possible. He believes that people armed with facts make better decisions in choosing leaders. He helped oversee our extensive coverage of the infamous county corruption case. He is the enemy of no one.

I’m not saying the people at cleveland.com deserve to be admired. I’m saying that the media in Cleveland are made up of people like you. People with passion. People who have suffered hardships. People who believe in the principles upon which this nation was founded.

None of us is perfect. We regularly make mistakes. So, correct us if you believe our facts are wrong. Challenge us if you think we show bias. Criticize us for our deficiencies.

But do us the favor and courtesy, whenever you hear the president or anyone else make the offensive claim that we are the enemy of the people, and think about the faces of our newsroom.

Think of Nikki.

Adolf Hitler was an enemy of the people. Bin Laden was an enemy of the people.

We are not.

We are Nikki Delamotte.

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