The project began online in the form of social media posts of the portraits with words. The immediate positive reactions were spot-on indications of public support. Gillespie took the suggestion of a friend and started a GoFundMe campaign to create an exhibition. He originally asked for $8,000 to cover the cost of printing, framing and the logistics of an exhibition.
“Within the first 24 hours I had the $8,000 that I was asking for, and I’m like, ‘Well, this is going well, maybe I should raise it.’ … I would like to do other things like a photo book or take the exhibit other places and talk about it and talk about why journalists matter and why local journalism matters. And talk about the five people that we lost. The five people who were murdered,” Gillespie said.
Wendi Winters, 65, reporter, columnist
Rebecca Smith, 34, sales assistant
John McNamara, 56, author, sports reporter and editor
Rob Hiaasen, 59, editor, columnist
Gerald Fischman, 61, editorial editor
Gillespie’s mission has been fully realized. Since June 19, $17,780 has been raised from 307 donations in amounts of mostly double-digit figures.
“A great group of local therapists (Annapolis Cares), got together and gave us free therapy, and the therapist I happen to go to after the initial eight weeks didn’t take worker’s comp or insurance. I didn’t know that when I started with her, or I would’ve probably gone somewhere else because then I couldn’t pay for that out of my own pocket so I had to stop going,” Gillespie explained. “And then I didn’t go for two or three months and then things got bad ... and that’s around the time I started this project,” he said. “I’m extremely appreciative and grateful for everyone who made this possible. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Additional requests to host the exhibit and contributions to expand the project continue.
But for now, Gillespie wants people to know this: “It says it right in the title. Journalists matter. Not just journalism matters, but the journalists that produce that journalism matter. And we’re people. … We’re your brothers, sisters, fathers, sons, daughters ... we’re your neighbors. We’re not out to set an agenda, we’re just out there trying to tell true stories from our communities. And with my photographs ... we just want to tell the truth.” ■
Katherine C. Gilyard is a student at Howard University based in Washington, D.C. Her interests are covering science, health and their overlap with culture. She is available for freelance work. She can be reached at katherinegilyard.format.com
About the exhibit: “Journalists Matter: Faces of the Capital Gazette” opens Oct. 6, 2019, at ArtFarm Studios in Annapolis, Maryland, for one month.