Tag Archives: Obituaries
Outgoing Forbes editor William Baldwin writes Monday about longtime Forbes auto writer Jerry Flint, who died this weekend at the age of 79 after suffering a stroke.
Baldwin writes, “One of his notions was that journalists, at least the sort that ruled the newsrooms of big newspapers a few decades ago, were too full of themselves. They wrapped themselves in a mantle of objectivity by attributing views to ‘industry observers’ or other murky sources. If you’ve got the story wrong, that kind of attribution isn’t going to make it right.
“The rules of newspaper journalism had writers beating around the bush with such declarations as ‘In automobile circles, it is whispered that … ‘ Jerry once satirized this kind of mealy mouthed reporting by drawing chalk circles on the floor of a car company men’s room, standing on them and whispering some observation about where the industry was headed. ‘Now I can say that this is being whispered in automobile circles,’ he explained.
“Today the profession has gone too far in the other direction, with breezy bloggers handing down pronouncements unsupported by any original reporting at all. Jerry had it right: First get the facts, and then you can take the marbles out of your mouth.”
Read more here.
Paul Eisenstein of TheDetroitBureau.com writes about Forbes auto writer Jerry Flint, who died this weekend at the age of 79.
Eisenstein writes, “What no one can dispute is Jerry Flint’s love of the car business, and his ability to connect with the industry’s men and women, from the lowliest line worker to the loftiest of executives. He treated them all pretty much the same way: with a balanced mix of curiosity and skepticism.
“One former senior Big Three executive recalls Flint as a ‘cantankerous contrarian. Tried to get me fired once,’ he says, but like many who crossed swords with the veteran journalist, over the years, the executive recalls ‘We became friends.’
“But even with his friends, Jerry Flint was never one to back down. A lunch could, at time times, start to become a lecture. And when he got on a roll it was good to step back a few feet, as one veteran public relations executive, then an industry newcomer, found out during a discussion over Indian food. ‘I had to clean the lentil mud off my glasses, but it was worth the worth lesson.’
“Once, when he served as president of IMPA, the New York-based auto journalist group, he presided over a speech by a senior industry official. When the executive waffled during the obligatory question-and-answer session, Flint started offering his own, much more insightful observations instead.”
Read more here.
Jerry Flint, who has covered the auto industry since 1958 and who had been at Forbes since 1979, died Saturday from a stroke at the age of 79. He had won a Loeb Award in 2003.
His son, Los Angeles Times reporter Joe Flint, writes on Forbes.com, “After serving in the Army for three years in a European intelligence unit, he joined The Wall Street Journal as a staff writer where he spent 11 years covering business and finance.
“In 1967 Flint moved to The New York Times as its Detroit bureau chief. Not only did he continue to focus on the automotive industry, he also reported on the 1967 Detroit riots and the 1968 presidential campaign.
“Flint moved to New York in 1973, working as The New York Times’ chief labor reporter, assistant to the national editor and assistant to the financial editor.
“He joined Forbes in 1979 as its Washington bureau chief. He ran the D.C. bureau for Forbes for four years before returning to New York and Forbes headquarters where he held several senior positions including assistant managing editor and senior writer. While he officially retired from Forbes in 1996, he continued on as a columnist until his death. His last column ‘Why Car Prices Are Climbing’ ran Aug. 2. He was also a contributor to Ward’s AutoWorld.”
Read more here.
Karen Krebsbach, who retired as executive editor and international editor of U.S. Banker in 2008, died earlier this month from breast cancer. She was 52.
An American Banker story states, “She joined U.S. Banker in 2002 as international editor and was promoted to executive editor of the magazine in 2004. In 2005, she was recognized by the American Society of Business Publication Editors with a National Gold Award for ‘The Inside Track,’ her regularly featured column covering the players and policies that set the regulatory agenda for the financial sector.
“Prior to U.S. Banker, she worked in senior editorial roles with the Foreign Service Journal and Bank Investment Marketing. She was a reporter with Venezuela-based The Daily Journal, and had worked on the copy desks of The Boston Globe as well as the Asian and European editions of The Wall Street Journal. She began her career at The Middlesex News in Framingham, Mass.
“A native of Fond du Lac, Wisc., Ms. Krebsbach graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire with bachelor’s degrees in English and journalism.”
Read more here.
Frank Miele, managing editor of the Daily Inter Lake in Kalispel, Mont., writes Sunday about Erika Hoefer, the newspaper’s business reporter who died last week in a plane crash at the age of 27 along with another one of the paper’s reporters.
Miele writes, “Erika arrived about two weeks later, and we promptly informed Melissa that she was now a ‘senior reporter.’ Erika, however, never quite fit the mold of a junior reporter. She had plenty of experience for someone so young, was conscientious and thoughtful, and struggled to get everything just right. She also had to juggle her tasks as business reporter for the Inter Lake and Flathead Business Journal with working two nights a week as page design editor, and did it without complaint.
“Erika had come to us from Chicago, and we had promised her that in exchange for the glamor and shopping of the big city, we would give her the grandeur of God’s country. She was intrigued and took our offer, and then suffered through the usual drudgery of a Flathead winter and the longest, bleakest, coldest spring in recent memory. We kept promising her that summer was just around the corner, and she kept asking us ‘Which corner?’”
Read more here.
Erika Hoefer, 27, and a business reporter for the newspaper in Kalispell, Mont., died in a plane crash that was sight-seeing in the state.
Another reporter for the newspaper, and two others, also died in the plane crash. The wreckage was found Wednesday afternoon.
Michael Jamison of the Missoulian writes, “Hoefer came from rural Wisconsin stock, Wolf said, with a firefighter father and a mom who worked at the local credit union. The family’s church has rallied in support, he said, and family friends planned to set up a bank account to help with travel and other costs related to the tragedy.
“Hoefer’s former Beloit colleagues were not surprised to hear she’d been taking in the mountain scenery from a small plane, and commented on her adventurous spirit.”
Read more here. Hoefer joined Daily Inter Lake newspaper in December, and she also wrote for the Flathead Business Journal.
Marketwatch.com media columnist Jon Friedman writes Wednesday about Chris Welles, the well-known business journalist who died last week at 72.
Friedman writes, “If Chris had had a chance to read this column — or any of the other stories that have appeared since his passing — I suspect that he would have reacted in two ways. First, he would have questioned the need for a story about his life at all, as he was a modest man. I am also fairly certain that his natural editor’s instinct would have taken over and he’d have promptly begun polishing the pieces — and invariably made them better.
“Why should a stranger who likely never met (or, possibly, ever heard of) Chris Welles care about his life and work? After all, thousands of people like Welles have inspired journalists in newsrooms all over the country. But what made Welles special was the set of qualities that he represented.
“He was a skilled editor who offered encouragement and guidance rather than cutting someone down for the sport of it. Above all, he was a gentleman.
“Beyond his distinguished career, Welles also serves as a symbol for a bygone era of journalism. He epitomized a period in the history of my craft when substance ruled over gossip and old-fashioned reporting meant more than ill-informed bloggers shooting their mouths off.”
Read more here.
The New York Times has an obituary Wednesday of noted business journalist Chris Welles and recounts how he took on the oil industry in the 1970s.
Dennis Hevesi writes, “His 1970 book, ‘The Elusive Bonanza,’ accused the oil industry of neglecting the development of America’s vast oil-shale reserves. It was an expansion of an article he had written for Life magazine several years earlier. Life did not use the piece, and after Mr. Welles sold it to Harper’s, Life fired him.
“The book had repercussions in 1977, when he was named director of the Walter Bagehot Fellowship Program in Business and Economics Journalism at Columbia (now the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship Program). For 35 years, it has provided a midcareer opportunity for business journalists to expand their expertise. Shortly after Mr. Welles’s appointment, the Mobil Oil Corporation withdrew its financial support for the fellowships, saying that while it considered the program excellent, it ‘didn’t have confidence in the leadership.’
“Besides Life, Mr. Welles also worked for BusinessWeek, The Saturday Evening Post and The Los Angeles Times. Among his awards for business reporting were a Gerald Loeb Award and a National Magazine Award. He ran the Bagehot program until 1985.”
Read more here.
Talking Biz News asked Steve Shepard, the editor of BusinessWeek from 1985 to 2005, for some thoughts about business journalist Chris Welles, who worked at BusinessWeek for 13 years and died this weekend.
Here is what Shepard, now the dean at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, had to say:
“Chris Welles was a genuinely good guy with a journalistic soul. He very much believed that it was the job of the press to hold people in power accountable for their actions and to ferret out wrongdoing. He spent his career doing that, first as a writer, then as a senior editor at Business Week. From the late 1960s to the early 1980s, Chris was probably the premier business writer around, the guy who did the tough stories.
“In his early years, Chris was one of the regulator writers for Institutional Investor, an innovative magazine about Wall Street in the 1970s. He specialized in narrative accounts of shennaigans, abuses, and downfalls. He was also a very successful freelancer, contributing to New York magazine, among others. From 1977 to 1985, he headed the Walter Bagehot Fellowship Program in Business and Economics Journalism at Columbia University. I had served as the first director (1975-76) and Soma Golden the second (1976-77). The program ran into financial difficulties during Chris’s tenure, but he fought to continue it and eventually weathered the storm. Now called the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship Program in Business and Economics Journalism, it has just finished its 35th year as a mid-career opportunity for business journalists.
“When I was editor-in-chief of Business Week, I jumped at the chance to hire Chris in the mid 1980s as a senior writer specializing in investigative and narrative pieces. Though he was soft-spoken and always polite, he was a tenacious reporter with a passion to get the bad guys. I eventually promoted him to senior editor in the finance department because I figured his impact would be felt more by having him work with writers every week rather than write a piece himself every couple of months. And I wanted him to teach the next generation of upcoming reporters. Chris took to editing like a fish to water, passing along a lot of knowledge about finance, a lot of wisdom about reporting complex stories. He was respected and liked by his colleagues.
“Like Lou Gehrig in 1939, Chris started losing some of his skills, and nobody knew why. He was eventually diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease and retired from Business Week. It was a tragedy for him and his wife Nancy, and a terrible loss for all of us. He took business journalism to a new level, setting the bar ever higher for the rest of us. He has left a legacy for all of us to honor.”
Chris Welles, who ran the business journalism program at Columbia University and was also a top business journalist for publications such as BusinessWeek, died Saturday after an extended illness.
Floyd Norris of the New York Times writes, “Chris ran the Bagehot program (now the Knight-Bagehot program) at Columbia University for many years. That program offers midcareer journalists a chance to spend a year studying at Columbia. Some, as I did, stay on to complete an M.B.A.
“Chris was less than overwhelmed when I applied for a spot as a fellow in 1981-’82, when I was a business writer at The Associated Press. He put me on a waiting list, to be considered if a better applicant decided not to attend. One did so, and that proved to be the turning point of my career and life. Chris taught me a lot about journalism and business, both while I was at Columbia and later on as a good friend.”
Read more here.
Chris was one of my editors at BusinessWeek in 1993 and 1994, and I considered it a privilege to work for the man. He taught me so much about Wall Street and finance in a short time. A senior editor at the publication, he received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers in 1997.
From 1977 to 1985, he served as director of the Bagehot Fellowship Program at Columbia University and as a professor of journalism. In the process, he helped train many of today’s leading business journalists.
At BusinessWeek from 1986 to 1999, he was an in-house teacher of journalism excellence.
Welles enjoyed a diverse career in business journalism, serving as business editor of the Saturday Evening Post, a contributing editor to Institutional Investor, a staff writer at the Los Angeles Times and as an editor and writer for Business Week. His awards included the Gerald Loeb, John Hancock, National Magazine Award and the University of Missouri business-writing award.
His book “The Last Days of the Club,” is a business journalism classic on the impact of the end of fixed commissions in 1975 on the New York Stock Exchange.