Legendary reporter Wayne Barrett filed his last column for the Village Voice this week. It reads like it’s from someone who has muckraked for nearly 40 years and has had a lot of time to think about his job:
When I was asked in recent years to blog frequently, I wouldn’t do it unless I had something new to tell a reader, not just a clever regurgitation of someone else’s reporting.
My credo has always been that the only reason readers come back to you again and again over decades is because of what you unearth for them, and that the joy of our profession is discovery, not dissertation.
There is also no other job where you get paid to tell the truth. Other professionals do sometimes tell the truth, but it’s ancillary to what they do, not the purpose of their job. I was asked years ago to address the elementary school that my son attended and tell them what a reporter did and I went to the auditorium in a trenchcoat with the collar up and a notebook in a my pocket, baring it to announce that “we are detectives for the people.”
…It never mattered to me what the party or ideology was of the subject of an investigative piece; the reporting was as nonpartisan as the wrongdoing itself. I never looked past the wrist of any hand in the public till. It was the grabbing that bothered me, and there was no Democratic or Republican way to pick up the loot.