19, No. 11
June 1 - 14, 2006
If I ever teach a journalism class, I will
assign my students Heather Haddon’s article on the
To me, it beautifully captures everything that is right with this
And it punctures an enduring myth about this line of work and the people
that practice it.
Too many people believe, or are taught, that reporters are not supposed
to care too much about their subjects.
But the thing that I like best about Heather is that she cares so
deeply. She almost always returned from covering a school event – and
there were dozens of those, virtually all of which she discovered and
assigned to herself – charged with positive energy. “What a great
program!” she’d exclaim, or “That was so much fun!”
But she also cared when things didn’t go well. When a community meeting
was unproductive, she’d lament the lack of progress as if she lived here
herself. When a politician or public official gave a silly reason for
supporting a misguided program, like the switch to frozen meals for
senior citizens, she shook her head in disappointment.
During her four years here, Heather developed sharp investigative
reporting skills, which she used to uncover the Pinnacle debacle. She
stopped by the buildings at Botanical Square because she heard about a
nice garden being planted there and thought it would make a nice feature
photo. When she did some checking on the landlord, she found out that he
had bought hundreds of buildings in only a couple of years. She dug, and
dug some more, and uncovered unscrupulous practices affecting thousands
of tenants in four boroughs.
For months, she was the only one covering this story. When she attended
tenant meetings in Pinnacle buildings in Manhattan she was greeted with
applause. (The citywide press finally discovered this story in May, but
Heather Haddon was there first – last October!)
Most of all, though, Heather loves telling people’s stories, whether it
was the shy but articulate National Guardsman who returned from Iraq to
surprise his colleagues at Lehman College, or the family who lost their
most precious possessions in a tragic fire at Tracey Towers, or the
fast-talking taxi dispatchers who have formed a tight-knit community in
their office on Webster Avenue.
Heather also deeply cared about the paper itself. She cared about how it
looked and cheered when it was chock full of ads. She developed a
meticulously organized photo archive that enabled her to pick out an old
picture like a rabbit out of a hat anytime I said, “Hey, you remember
that shot of …?”
She drove herself hard, and often couldn’t bring herself to miss
covering an evening meeting, even when I told her it really would be OK
if she did.
The Norwood News is what it is now in large part because of
Heather and the caring she brought to everything she did here.
Heather might not know much about the good people of Patterson, New
Jersey, where she will soon be working for a daily newspaper, but it
won’t be long before she becomes one of them.
We will miss Heather very much. We wish her tremendous success as she
takes on the next challenge of her journalistic career.
to Opinion Index Page
News | Opinion | Schools
| Features | Continuing Stories | Home
About Us | Past Issues