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A Missourian reporter walked into a bar…

Posted by Eva Dou on September 12, 2008

…and got a hot, hot story. 

I thought I’d share this. Here’s the story of the story as related by Randy Smith ’74, Director of Strategic Development at the Kansas City Star, when he talked to Daniel Maxson and myself this morning. Mr. Smith tells it better, but our flip camera unfortuitously ran out of memory at the exactly wrong time. 

One Saturday in 1974, Randy Smith was awakened at 6 a.m. with a slight hangover, by Missourian City Editor Tom Duffy: “Wake up, you’ve got a front page story to write.” A plane had crashed in a local field. The pilot and passenger had miraculously survived, but were nowhere to be found.

After a fruitless search for the pair, Smith returned to the news room, head hanging. Wise Duffy asked, “Where the hell do you think you’d be if you’d just crashed your plane? You’d be in a bar.”

So Smith started checking out local bars, and sure enough found the pilot and passenger having a drink at the Holiday Inn. He got the interviews.

“My story was stripped to the top of the Missourian the next day,” Smith said. 

A lesson in creative thinking and listening to wise editors.

Coincidentally, our other interviewee today, Argentine journalism professor, freelancer and former EU reporter Carolina Escudero, also advocated bars as a potential source of stories.

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