That’s really the challenge of covering public issues, isn’t it? You want to be thorough and fair, but you also need to reveal its significance and meaning to the readers. I think at the Daily News we’ve done a better job of that than most places because we’re a little less chained to a certain AP style , and we’ve always been encouraged to come up with a lead that makes the impact clear and hard hitting. I think the business needs to do that. It needs to pick stories that have meaning to people and write them in a way that has meaning. I think at the Daily News we’ve been a little better in that respect. That’s also one of the things that’s interested me about columns. There are some stories that needed more voice, where you can say “this is what’s wrong”. The great thing about this paper is that it’s given me the freedom to write news stories and columns as part of the same job, and I like how the one rule at the Daily News is that there are no rules.
I can guarantee you that -- regardless of the outcome of some little football game out west somewhere -- at least one Texas Longhorn is going out as a winner tonight. That would be my longtime colleague and friend Dave Davies. I don't think that any of my co-workers at the Daily News -- as unique and talented as all of them are -- would disagree with me when I say that Dave has been the heart and soul of the newspaper ever since he first walked in the door at 400 North Broad Street.
Dave was always just a Daily News kind of guy -- a rabble-rouser and a cabbie and a teacher who finally came to journalism for the only reason that anybody should: He loved it. Specializing in local politics and government, Dave has been relentless -- right up to his very last day here, which is today -- in his core belief that public officials should be ethical and should be held accountable for their actions. But even as he chased after some of the most notorious bad actors in the brass-knuckles world of Philadelphia politics -- and there are way too many of these -- he was always remarkably fair and even-tempered in his pursuit. You always sensed that he was doing this not because he wanted awards or to make a bigger name for himself, but simply because...he lived in Philadelphia, and he just wanted it to be a better place.
That made Dave a mentor and a role model to pretty much everybody who passed through the Daily News newsroom these last couple of decades. Whenever I wondered whether I was being fair or was staying on track with a story that I was working on, Dave was usally the first person I would turn to for advice. Part of that may have also been just that the dude was there in the newsroom all the time -- somehow finding the time eventually to juggle two high-profile jobs at the same time, when he became Terry Gross' main substitute for NPR's flagship interview show "Fresh Air". Now that he's leaving to work full-time at WHYY, there's been talk of lobbying the powers-that-be to fill his job slot, but Dave himself is irreplaceable. There's one silver lining in this, which is that Dave will be only a few blocks away -- still fighting for Philadelphia, just from a different address.