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The last reporter in town

A superb, moving piece in the New York Times here, on the last of a dying breed – the devoted, proud and entirely excellent local newspaper reporter.

Evan Brandt – to be played by Tom Hanks in the ensuing movie, I hope – has been doing his brilliant, important thing for the Pottstown Mercury for decades.

As The Times has it: “Forget dashing foreign correspondents and “All the President’s Men”: Daily journalism often comes down to local reporters like Mr. Brandt. Overworked, underpaid and unlikely to appear as cable-news pundits, they report the day’s events, hold officials accountable and capture those moments — a school honor, a retirement celebration — suitable for framing.”

They are a heavily endangered species. The pandemic has “clobbered a newspaper industry already on the mat”.

Brandt says he never forgot the example set by colleagues, who would race to every fire and crime scene. “If you came back to the newsroom and you didn’t smell like smoke, you hadn’t done your job.”

I don’t know Brandt but I’ve met lots like him and loved every single one of them. As role models, there are no better.

If you’re a flak, people like Brandt are a pain in the neck and you may be inclined to enjoy his eventual demise.

Without him, there is little need for PR people, since the rich and the powerful have no fear of a proper reporter attacking a local issue for as long as it takes, just because he can’t stand not to.


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