Biz editor remembers reporter Accola
by Adam Levy
Rocky Mountain News business editor Rob Reuteman wrote about reporter John Accola, who died this past weekend of a heart attack, in his Friday column.
Reuteman wrote, “As someone who runs a team of business journalists, one of the aspects I appreciated most about John was how he rubbed off on those around him. Rocky entertainment reporter Erika Gonzalez started her work here in the business section, seated next to him. ‘I soon realized that sitting next to John was the best thing that could happen to a young reporter,’ she wrote this week. ‘He was so diligent and so dedicated, you could learn something just from listening to John conduct a phone interview. He taught me the importance of exhaustive research and reporting.’
“Some of Accola’s phone interviews, easily overheard by those around him, are legendary. Deputy business editor Gil Rudawsky recalled listening to him on the phone with money manager Will Hoover, well before he was convicted and jailed for bilking clients. Rudawsky recalls hearing Accola say, ‘I’m reading through this report, and it looks like you’re a crook.’ Rudawsky expected an abrupt end to that interview, but an hour later Accola was still on the phone with Hoover, typing out a lengthy explanation of his innocence.
“Indeed, John had an incredible knack for saying something to someone that would completely disarm them. I remember a couple years ago when John and I were at a Christmas party at the home of our friends Mort and Edie Marks. Gov. Owens was there, too, and John and I went to engage him in conversation. John opened with, ‘Bill (not governor, as I would have begun), you look fantastic. Have you had work done?’ For a split second I could see the lack of decorum register in Owens’ eyes. Just as quickly, I saw that decorum shatter. Owens burst out laughing and chatted with us for a good 20 minutes.”
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