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Dave Hyde on Sun Sentinel's Fred Turner

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Speedway, Dec 11, 2007.

  1. Speedway

    Speedway Member

    Dave Hyde has a column today on longtime sports editor Fred Turner of the Sun Sentinel. Turner will be inducted into the Broward Sports Hall of Fame tonight along with Earl Weaver among others. If anyone has any Turner stories, please share.


    http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/sfl-flsphyde1211sbdec11,0,2257045.column

    Fred Turner: The story behind the stories you read
    Dave Hyde

    Sports Columnist

    December 11, 2007


    He's a newspaperman, from an era that created such people, and so he'll hate this story. That's because the Golden Rule of newspapermen is we're not the story. None of us working these pages.

    The star quarterback is the story. The 13-year-old tennis phenom is the story. The couple that got married in the marathon, at the 15-mile mark, in full sweat — they're the story.

    And so Fred Turner will hate that today's story is about his 25-year run as the Sun-Sentinel sports editor who led an award-laden section, who hired a couple of fantasy teams of talent, who had the vision to keep these pages growing with the South Florida sports landscape and who will be inducted into Broward's Hall of Fame tonight because of all that.

    "What genius put me in any Hall of Fame!" he must have said when it was announced, because when his Boston ire gets going, his volume does, too. You should have seen his daily staff meetings to decide how the next day's paper would look. Yelling. Stomping. Egos turned up to full broil.

    "I'd hear all this yelling, and I'd hardly want to look what's going on," reporter Kathleen Kernicky once said, her desk right outside of Fred's office for years. "But when the door opened everyone came out laughing."

    Fred stories. Our office is full of them. How he made this the biggest sports section in America for a time. How he upgraded the staff to fit a major league market. How he'd come in like a dust-storm each morning, grumbling like the sports fan he always was about.

    "That Derrek Lee can't hit!" he'd grouse.

    We still remind him about that.

    "The Panthers got to trade Ed Jovanovski!" he'd shout.

    OK, he was wrong on that, too.

    But here's a telling one he got right: He gave Mitch Albom his first break in this business. This was before Albom wrote The Five People You Meet In Heaven, before he wrote Tuesdays With Morrie, before he was named the best sports columnist in America for a jillion years.

    Albom couldn't find a job. A paper in South Dakota had just turned him down. He came to interview for a magazine position at the Sun-Sentinel, but somehow he landed in Fred's office, too. They talked. Fred looked at his work, and he told an assistant, "We can't let this guy get out of the building."

    Albom got out of the building, and all the way to Europe, when Fred called with the job offer. Of course, in true Fred fashion, even this hire comes with a story.

    "You know that magazine job you interviewed here for?" he asked Albom. "Yeah?" Albom asked, excitedly. "Well, you didn't get it," Fred said. That's how Albom became a Sun-Sentinel sports columnist. He'll tell you how important Fred's faith was. But then everyone Fred touched still talks about him. Take Bill Plaschke. He's another Fred protege. And the story he tells isn't of coming to the paper. It's of leaving it. Being shoved from it, actually.

    Fred took him aside one day and said, "You better go somewhere else."

    You see, Plaschke was young and talented, but there was no promotion or money worthy of his talent at the time. A more selfish boss would have happily tucked that talent away for a couple of years, telling him to bide his time, that something was bound to come up.

    But Fred saw this guy needed to stretch his wings, or he'd run the risk of the Triple Crown of bad sports writers — bored, bitter and cynical. So Plaschke left. His wings stretched. Today he's one of the country's top sports writers with the Los Angeles Times.

    Fred wanted people to succeed the way the best managers always do. What's more, he gave them the freedom to do so, too, even though we journalists can be the clumsiest of people. We argue and get loud and act messy sometimes.

    But he always understood that was part of the fun for people in newspapers, like kids playing in the mud. For his 25 years here it was loud and messy, sometimes muddy, but always fun. No one made this paper look better than Fred. No one kept this section thinking bigger.

    A couple of years ago, he mysteriously began losing weight and took a medical leave. We lost our Don Shula. Of course, I still pick up the phone some days after a column that doesn't quite hit home to hear a gravelly voice say, "Dave, what were you thinking?"

    In fact, as I get to this story's end, I'm already bracing for that phone call today.

    "Dave, what were you thinking?"

    I'll answer that, for one day, the story isn't what's wrong with the Dolphins or who the new center fielder is. It's about the guy who for 25 years decided what the headlines would be deserving one himself.
     
  2. Dan Hickling

    Dan Hickling Member

    I probably don't have to say so, but DHyde is one of the very best...his Jake Scott piece is priceless
     
  3. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Met Fred Turner a couple times. Seems like he'd be a great boss.
     
  4. MileHigh

    MileHigh Moderator Staff Member

    Have heard only excellent things about Fred. Work with two people now who used to work for him. And I saw the Sentinel nearly every day for more than three years and it was very good stuff.
     
  5. hondo

    hondo Well-Known Member

    Did Turner also hire Craig Barnes? Or did Barnes pre-date him?
     
  6. Full of Shit

    Full of Shit Member

    Barnes pre-dated Turner by many years. Barnes used to be the Sentinel's sports editor. There was one, maybe two short-term SEs between their administrations. Turner started there in 1980 after coming down from the Patriot Ledger of Quincy, Mass. (A couple of other Ledger people had preceded him to the S-S). Barnes had the SE job through 1978 or 79.

    Turner was City Editor of the Ledger when he was named to replace the retiring Bob Cady as SE of the Ledger. Interestingly, he was an extremely unpopular choice because it had been assumed that one of Cady's assistants, Lou Molinari or Earl LaChance, would get the job. Fred gradually won over people because he was, well, good.

    His track record at the Sentinel speaks for itself. His hiring coincided with the purchase of the paper by the Tribune Company, so he had a lot more resources to work with than his predecessors, including Barnes, did. But he still deserves a huge amount of credit for the job he did, and especially for some of the hires he made.

    One of my few regrets in the business is that I only got to work with Fred for a very short time in Massachusetts. We sometimes joked about both of us landing in South Florida but always being competitors.

    Fred richly deserves any honors bestowed upon him.
     
  7. hondo

    hondo Well-Known Member

    How did Barnes go from being the SE to a small-college beat guy and GA?
     
  8. Full of Shit

    Full of Shit Member

    I wasn't around when it happened, so my answer is just educated guessing. Having said that, I think new management didn't think Barnes was the guy to oversee dramatic increases in space and coverage, but Barnes hadn't done anything egregious enough to get canned over. I'd be willing to bet they planned/hoped he'd just quit, but he didn't.

    As much as Barnes gets made fun of in SoFla for his personal and professional quirks, he's a good reporter. I've always respected him for refusing to be run off, and for taking a bad situation and turning it into a positive.
     
  9. wickedwritah

    wickedwritah Guest

    Another reminder of how much the Ledger has fallen, too. I think they have two full-timers on the staff nowadays. It's pathetic.
     
  10. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Active Member

    This can be used, in one way or another, to describe an increasing number of us who haven't yet bailed on the business entirely.
     
  11. I think Barnes is a great guy. Always takes time to talk to young reporters, a good reporter, great at building relationships and a class act. I love running into him from time to time on the road. Always great to share stories with. As a kid growing up down there, I've seen Barnes arrange to have Yankee players come for opening day of Little League. He was always just trying to help and that's an admirable quality.

    As for Fred Turner, he allowed me to be a stringer for preps when I was in high school as well as writing during summers home from college. He would check in to see how I was doing ocassionally and offer advice. In fact, that staff was a relfection of him and all would try to help you if you asked. Couldn't ask for a better starting point to learn the right way to do things in this business.
     
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