In the issue dated 5.2.07, the Dig ran an Exit Poll in which Barry Thompson interviewed some people outside of a memorial concert at the ICC for local artist Gordon Riker, who was killed last month when a truck collided with his bicycle. In the interview, Barry—who should have known better—asked a really tasteless question: namely, “So, getting hit by a truck must suck, huh?” In the fever pitch of a particularly hellish production schedule, we didn’t connect the question with the purpose of the event, and it sailed through to print, where it proceeded to cause a lot of people grief that really didn’t need any more of it.
When it came to our attention last week that people were angry, we took another look at the story. We were immediately sorry we had run it, and not a little sick to our stomachs at how far over the line we’d gone. Out of respect for everybody involved, we removed it from our website.
Consider this our public statement of apology. We here at the Weekly Dig would like to say to all of Gordon Riker’s family and friends, the local arts community and people of basic human decency everywhere, that we are sorry. We know we have a reputation for stretching the limits of good taste, but this is really not the sort of thing we find funny around here.
A huge apology also to Andrew Riker, Gordon’s brother. At a very difficult time for himself and his family, Andrew organized the tremendously successful all-ages concert at the ICC, which raised almost $11,000 for the Gordon Riker Urban Foundation. Proceeds will go to promote bicycle safety in the city. Anyone who wants to contribute to the fund should contact Andrew at [email protected]
Yesterday, we got a letter from Gordon Riker’s mother, Pamela King, which is printed below. We invite you all to leave your own comments.
I am outraged, I am appalled and I am beyond upset at the disrespect that your reporter who came to the Gordon Riker Benefit displayed. Your paper, instead of writing about what a phenomenal turnout of friends that came to pay tribute to their beautiful and brilliantly artistic friend, chose instead to ask an inappropriate question at an inappropriate time and place. Let me ask … what was their purpose in being there?
I know why I was there … I gave birth to Gordon. He was my son…a talented and gifted artist, a loyal and honest friend to so many, and a spirit so loving and bright that he was able to touch so many. I know this not just as a mother, but also because of the outpouring of sympathy that I have been shown by people whose lives he touched in some way, and the circle just keeps getting bigger and bigger. These are the things that keep me from disintegrating.
You, your paper and this reporter (and I use that term loosely) lack integrity and respect. Why not report that the Cathedral of Saint Paul was filled to capacity for his Memorial Service on Saturday, April 21 out of respect for a person that showed so much respect for others? Why not report about the phenomenal turnout at his Memorial Concert instead of asking crass and disrespectful questions? Was it meant to be funny? Maybe that reporter would like to ask me on Sunday, Mother’s Day, how I am feeling. Maybe that would be funny too.
Pamela King…Gordon’s Mom, Always