Getting chummy with the press

A Chicago reporter was recently fired. That’s not news. Evidently it was because she was too close to the subject of some of her stories. Amazingly enough, a story on the firing had a Lakeland connection….

When I was police reporter on my first newspaper job in Lakeland, Florida, we exposed wrongdoing in pretty much every law enforcement unit in our area within my first month on the beat – the county sheriff’s department, the city police department, the local state highway patrol office. I said half-jokingly to my editor, “Now no one will talk to me!” He replied quickly and curtly: “Like they’re talking to you now!”

He was right. My phone never stopped ringing from whistleblowers during the rest of my time there, we could write any story we wanted from police reports and court records, and in fact the good cops and sheriff’s deputies as well as the highest officials respected the accuracy and fairness of our work. We weren’t treated like the suck-ups, and it was for all the better. My phone calls got returned, and it wasn’t to make lunch dates. — Steve Rhodes, The Beachwood Reporter

I wonder who was that Ledger editor?

2 thoughts on “Getting chummy with the press

  1. Hello Lakeland!

    The editor was Tom Arthur. At the time he was assistant city editor. I learned an awful lot from Tom; to this day he remains one of the biggest influences on my career, which now includes reporting stints for the Chicago Tribune, Newsweek, Chicago magazine, and now as founder, publisher and editor of The Beachwood Reporter.

    But Tom’s greatest piece of advice to a police reporter whose shift went into the evening was probably this: “Always keep a fork in your drawer.” Because when you order dinner in, you can never seem to find one. How true, Tom. How true.

    Thanks, Lakeland!And thanks to the Ledger.

  2. Hello Lakeland!

    The editor was Tom Arthur. At the time he was assistant city editor. I learned an awful lot from Tom; to this day he remains one of the biggest influences on my career, which now includes reporting stints for the Chicago Tribune, Newsweek, Chicago magazine, and now as founder, publisher and editor of The Beachwood Reporter.

    But Tom’s greatest piece of advice to a police reporter whose shift went into the evening was probably this: “Always keep a fork in your drawer.” Because when you order dinner in, you can never seem to find one. How true, Tom. How true.

    Thanks, Lakeland!And thanks to the Ledger.

Comments are closed.