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Beating and missing the ultimate deadline

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by friend of the friendless, Aug 2, 2008.

  1. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member

    Sirs, Madames,

    A story, a bit of history, I was working on petered out in large part because three sources I was counting on are deceased (most recently, one who was on my high school track team, which makes it more troubling).

    There were a few famous figures I always wanted to talk to / write about and managed to do so just prior to their passing, among others, Curt Flood, King Clancy (the last time he talked to anybody) and Carl Brewer. Luther Bedford I chased down a few years before died ... not quite a deadline-beater. EDIT: I forgot WC Heinz. I've been good on chasing down writer-heroes like the Grim Reaper (Joe Mitchell, Morley Callaghan and the still-with-us Budd Schulberg).

    There were a few that slipped away. Missed deadlines. I remember working on a story on Scotty Bowman and his brother, a scout, was sitting behind me at the Stanley Cup final. I didn't want to interude (he was sitting with a couple of friends) and I had a phone number for him. I figured I could wait and I had some other pressing things to work on that night. A day or two later, a massive heart attack and --30--. I always think of that whenever I might be inclined to put something off until tomorrow.

    YD&OHS, etc
  2. Italian_Stallion

    Italian_Stallion Active Member

    I'd like to meet Willie Nelson. He seems to be on that list of guys whose time on this planet is running short.
  3. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    You may be wrong, you may be right.

    Speaking of which ... better get hold of Billy Joel stat ...
  4. Italian_Stallion

    Italian_Stallion Active Member

    Recently, I wrote a story that was suggested by a parent. The guy wasn't doing well. The paper held the story a few more weeks than I would have preferred. I haven't tracked the timeline. But I believe the story was published just a week or two before he died. Thankfully, he got to read it and, quite unusually, was buried with a copy of the whole section of that day's paper. I realize now that I would have gone bonkers with the editors if he had left this world without reading the story.
  5. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    I once did a story on a coach who was dying of cancer.
    He slipped into a coma hours before the paper came out and died that morning.
  6. Dave Kindred

    Dave Kindred Member

    I learned of the death of a subject by reading my own story.

    The story was about a University of Kentucky player who'd been paralyzed. I interviewed coaches, players, friends, family. Wrote it, filed it, was depleted, went home to bed.

    Next morning's front-page headline: "UK's Greg Page, paralyzed in practice, dies."

    Office had updated it at midnight. Didn't call me.
  7. Italian_Stallion

    Italian_Stallion Active Member

    I scratched my head after that first sentence before nailing what happened. I was right. That's truly bizarre. Sad, too.
  8. DrewWilson

    DrewWilson Member

    He played my town last week, actually. I'm told he doesn't talk to the media anymore.
  9. Dan Hickling

    Dan Hickling Member

    Two years ago, I was on the road covering the Portland Sea Dogs in Reading, and spent four days sitting next to 93-year old "Broadway" Charlie Wagner, the oldest living Red Sox. I archive all my interviews anyway, so on the fourth day, thought I'd let the recorder roll as we chatted for over half an hour, with him telling and retelling some great stories. Wrote a couple pieces off of that. Less than a month later, Charlie passed away. Was very glad to have had that time with him. BTW, I'm not a collector, but he had given me a baseball card of himself, and signed it. That one was a keeper...
  10. beardpuller

    beardpuller Active Member

    I think this is close enough to the spirit of the thread not to be a threadjack.
    In the 1991 NHL playoffs, I was crammed into a little interview room with dozens of other people after a game, when Penguins coach Badger Bob Johnson commented on the death that day or the day before of U.S. Senator John Heinz in an airplane crash near Philadelphia. This might not be an exact quote, but he said: "Tomorrow isn't guaranteed to us, as the junior senator from Pennsylvania would tell you."
    I remember deciding not to use the quote as a note because it sounded insensitive, though I'm sure that wasn't Johnson's intent. Anyhow, a few months later, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and died that November.
  11. Bob Cook

    Bob Cook Active Member

    I was do a story about a band, whose members had long spread across the country, reuniting in Indiana for a gig to help pay the medical bills of their old drummer, who had stomach cancer. I called his house in California to try to talk to him about it, and got his wife, who mentioned he died -- like about six hours ago. As you can imagine, it was an incredibly raw interview, especially because I got the sense she had just gotten home and hadn't called every relative yet to spread the news.
  12. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member

    Mr Puller,

    The ruling of the judges will be final.

    I watched a short VH-1 doc on the making of Warren Zevon's last album. Gut-wrenching stuff. It's morbid to think of chasing a story with a soon-to-be dead guy, but in WZ's case his stuff was so death-obsessed/morbid, it worked.

    Badger Bob's words are something to the effect of "Enjoy Every Sandwich."

    YD&OHS, etc
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