Opening up the Conversation
Last Friday evening, a group of local journalists, students and other supporters of Freedom of Information Oklahoma gathered inside Studio D at the OU Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication for the first installment of our "Open Conversations" speaker series. Our guest was Chase Cook, an OU alum who is now a reporter at The Capital newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland.
Chase described the events of June 28, 2018, the day that a gunman opened fire inside The Capital newsroom, killing five of Chase’s colleagues. However, his speech was more than simply a restatement of the facts - it was an opportunity for the audience to step into Chase’s shoes and experience that day through his eyes and ears.
I won’t try to regurgitate Chase’s speech here; that would be unfair to both you and Chase. What I will say is that throughout the evening, I was struck by how often Chase found ways to connect his story not just with the tenets of professional journalism, but with the core tenets of our democracy itself. Journalism, at least good journalism, is not a passive pursuit. Nor then is democracy. Uncovering truth, however ugly it may be, and dragging it into the light, is a team sport. As is democracy.
Inspiring speeches aside, the event raised nearly $4,000 for FOI Oklahoma. We’d like to thank our esteemed guest, Mr. Chase Cook, all of our attendees, and our generous sponsors: Gaylord College, the Tulsa World, Cherokee Nation Businesses and the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. Special thanks to FOI Oklahoma board members Judy Gibbs Robinson and Ashley Parrish for their tireless work organizing the event!