No one trains for this
OpinionA Note from Our Board Chair

No one trains for this

The Chronicle and PUP were able to cover each day of the trial, in person, and provide online daily reporting of the proceedings.

No one trains for this. By definition, “the inconceivable” is something that none of us is prepared for. There are no SWAT teams in journalism, at least not in Jewish journalism. And yet, immediately after that fateful day in October 2018, the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle’s small but dedicated cadre of journalists sprang into action to provide the local — and worldwide — community with insightful, informative, comprehensive coverage of the worst antisemitic attack in U.S. history.

Aug. 3, 2023, marked a defining moment in that coverage, as the murderer was sentenced to death for his crimes.

Over these past four years and 10 months, at every turn, the Chronicle’s staff members conducted themselves with the utmost professionalism. They made it look easy, but it decidedly was not easy. Whereas many of us (apart from the victims’ families and the survivors) were able to seek periodic respites from constantly recalling the horrors of that day, such a luxury was not afforded to the Chronicle staff. They were continually engaged throughout.

Clearly, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Jim Busis, CEO and publisher, Toby Tabachnick, editor, and Senior Staff writers Adam Reinherz and Dave Rullo for their excellent (and award-winning) coverage. As board chair of the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle, and on behalf of the entire board of trustees, I want to say we couldn’t be prouder of them.

Coverage began immediately after the attack: the victims and their stories, the heroic first responders, the funerals, the worldwide outpouring of support, and on and on and on. Immersed in every aspect of the attack and what followed, the Chronicle staff remained steadfast in providing high-quality reporting even while struggling with their own feelings as members of the very community that came under attack that day.

As the trial date approached, the Chronicle staff knew that they had to continue to provide their high-quality coverage throughout the trial. But how to accomplish that? Could the small editorial staff afford to have one member present in court every day for what was expected to be a three-month trial? And even rotating among the three members of the Chronicle’s editorial team, how could they hold up through eight hours of emotional testimony each day, and then spend the evenings writing it up?

Through what can only be described as divine intervention, Toby Tabachnick thought to contact a former Chronicle intern, Andrew Goldstein, to see if he might be able to help cover the trial. Andrew is a journalist currently on strike from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Andrew consulted with his striking colleagues who have been publishing online as PUP, Pittsburgh Union Progress ( PUP put together a team of experienced journalists to partner with the Chronicle to cover the trial. Headed by Bob Batz Jr., PUP interim editor, the PUP team included Torsten Ove, Andrew Goldstein, photojournalist Alexandra Wimley, editor Karen Carlin, and interns Harrison Hamm and Delaney Parks.

Through the collaboration, the Chronicle and PUP were able to cover each day of the trial, in person, and provide online daily reporting of the proceedings. The Chronicle print edition provided a weekly recap of the proceedings. The coverage was enhanced by the contributions of Torsten Ove, with his decades of experience covering federal court proceedings, and the keen eye of photojournalist Alexandra Wimley. The Chronicle also benefited greatly from the contributions of its own intern, Abigail Hakas.

We will never forget those who were brutally and senselessly murdered that day: Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Cecil Rosenthal, David Rosenthal, Bernice Simon, Sylvan Simon, Dan Stein, Irving Younger and Mel Wax. We, at the Chronicle, only hope that we honored their memory by reporting, as we did, with dedication, care, and compassion. PJC

Evan H. Stein is the board chair of the Chronicle, managing partner of FSA Consulting/Green Light Wireless and a member of JFNA’s National Young Leadership Cabinet.

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