One Reporter's Start

Why I Hired Danny Pearl

The letter was incredible. Never had I read more flattering, in-your-face cajolery. This kid was telling me he’d enjoyed my article, believed everything I’d written, and would give his right arm to work for me.

"Geez, you can’t be serious," I sighed to no one in particular. Naturally, I called him.

The letter had been signed by Danny Pearl, whose tragic death is now known to most of the world. But back in 1985, he was fresh out of Stanford with a communications degree and a drive to be a journalist. And as the editor of the North Adams Transcript, an 11,000-circulation daily in the northern Berkshires of western Massachusetts, I often needed reporters on the cheap.

I telephoned Pearl in California and joked with him that his letter was blatantly sycophantic.

"Yeah, I know," Danny said a little sheepishly. "So do I get the job?"

"Well, not yet, but if you can get yourself to New England for an interview, we’ll see."

He did, and, in short order, I was calling out, "Pearl, how long is that story going to be? You’ve got ten minutes to get it down here to the desk."

In the wake of Danny’s January 23 abduction and brutal slaying by Islamic militants in Pakistan, there are anger, frustration, and desolation. But there is also a measure of...

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About the Author

Jerome Joseph Day, OSB, teaches journalism, communications, and literature at Saint Anselm College, Manchester, New Hampshire. Prior to entering the Benedictine order, he was managing editor of the North Adams Transcript in North Adams, Massachusetts.