Margaret Sullivan, Editor and Vice President of The Buffalo News
BUFFALO, NY- Close to 1,000 persons packed an east side church Wednesday night for the chance to speak with Margaret Sullivan, the Editor and Vice President of The Buffalo News, about a recent article which revealed that seven of the eight victims in the August 14th mass shooting on Main Street had criminal records.
Riccardo McCray is charged with being the gunman in the massacre which left four dead and four wounded.
It was Ms. Sullivan's idea to hold the forum at the New Bethel Baptist Church, according to pastor Darius Pridgen, who lauded her for being willing to come and hear the public's concerns.
Among the standing room only crowd were several members of the victim's families, who soundly criticized the paper for having run the story.
"What did that have to do with them being shot and killed?" asked Ruby Martin, whose daughter was among those fatally wounded in the hail of gunfire.
Some were more incensed by the timing of the article, which was published the day after the last of their loved ones were buried.
"We woke up on a Sunday morning to an article that demeaned our family," said Cheryl Stevens, whose daughter Tanisha was left widowed when her husband Danyell Mackin was killed.
Interestingly Mackin was --according to the article-- the only one of the victims who never had a criminal conviction.
Nonetheless, Stevens told Sullivan, "You poured salt on a wound that had not even healed."
Sullivan defended the article, in part by saying, "We were trying to put they pieces of the puzzle together ..what happened and why."
But her explanation seemed to further enrage one member of the audience who told her, "You're a news person not a police officer. Let the police do their job and you do the news!"
Sullivan also defended the timing of the article by saying, "when we have information we don't withhold it. We don't wait until a time that is perfect."
Still Sullivan was conciliatory in stating, "what I've heard here tonight will affect the way we go forward. It will affect the way we make decisions."
Sullivan also conceded that, "If I were to make decisions today about the story that has upset everyone so much (those decisions) would be, to be honest with you, not entirely different but would be substantially different and you have effected me in what you said."
To the families of the victims Sullivan said, "I am very sorry The News has caused your pain to be deeper."
Some of them, though, continue to demand that the paper print a formal apology in its editions.
Click on the video icon to watch the story from 2 On Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalist Bill Boyer.