Saturday, September 20, 2008

Pat Stith, legend of N.C. journalism, is retiring

Pat Stith, a legendary reporter in North Carolina for decades and a Pulitzer Prize winner for his reporting on the state's hog industry in 1996, will take a voluntary buyout and retire next month from the News & Observer in Raleigh.

"Stith's work sprang a man from prison and put five others behind bars. His revelations prompted rewrites of the state's workers' compensation laws, pointed out the environmental dangers caused by the pork industry and, most recently, revealed more than $400 million wasted by the state's mental health reforms," Mandy Locke writes for the N&O.

Locke's story is so full of great nuggets about Stith, 66, we don't have room for them all, but here are a few: He saves gum for another chew; he eats apple cores; says he hasn't made a material error in a story since he was 18; has "a fact-checking regimen that involves crossing through every word that's been checked against a source," including the spelling of his own name; places follow-up calls to the subjects his stories damage most, and "His even-handedness has turned the rebuked into his most trusted sources," Locke writes.
In retirement, Stith plans to learn how to fish and bake a cake, and to hike the Appalachian Trail. "There are so many things I haven't done because I'm a newspaperman," he told Locke. "It's time. I am completely at peace with this decision." (Read more)

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