Here’s a scary thought for an editor: On Friday, almost 90 years of experience and accumulated local knowledge walked out the door of The News Tribune in the form of three staff members.
Reporter Kris Sherman and sports copy editor Bill Schey retired last week, and long-time reporter Debby Abe left for another job.
As is our custom, we held an informal going-away party for them and others on Friday. Their colleagues, family members and former TNT staffers came to reminisce and wish them well.
Abe worked for more than 24 years as a TNT reporter, covering courts, minority communities, education and features. Her ever-present smile and disarming way belied the tenacity with which she approached her work.
When Abe took on a story, we never doubted that every source would be contacted and every side represented. Her source list was legendary.
During her long tenure as an education writer, she worked to hold school officials accountable, but may have been at her best when explaining complicated educational philosophies from a classroom perspective. She wrote both for taxpayers and for parents.
In her 30 years on the News Tribune staff, Sherman held almost every position in the newsroom – copy editor, page designer, city editor, food and travel editor and reporter with beats covering business, Gig Harbor, the City of Tacoma, the Tacoma School District and most recently, Pierce County government.
Her story on today’s front page is a great example of Sherman’s approach to watchdog journalism – tough, but fair. She was never afraid to ask the hard question, but she also paid close attention to the answer.
On Friday, she left her farewell party to go back upstairs and check her notes to be sure she accurately expressed the sentiments of every public official she quoted.
On the flip side, Sherman was the first to raise her hand for a Mariners' opening day fan story, and she loved writing about the animals at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. Her child-like curiosity helped to make her writing sparkle on stories that were just plain fun.
Schey retired after 35 years at the TNT. Imagine the amount of local sports knowledge he acquired over that time. That knowledge was critical in providing context to current issues and in determining whether a story should play on the cover of the sports section or deep inside.
The good news was, Schey was quick to share what he knew. Three younger staffers thanked him Friday for teaching them about South Sound teams and athletes.
Schey also was unflappable – a precious attribute when you’re working a sports desk.
As you know, most sports events happen at night. Take a Friday night during high school football season, for instance. We cover more than 60 high schools, and each has a football game ending about 9:30 p.m.
Our desk editors have about 90 minutes to get the results from reporters or coaches, edit the stories, write the headlines, design the pages and ship them back to the pressroom. They do it once for The Olympian and again an hour later for The News Tribune.
Schey thanked us Friday for the nightly adrenaline shot we’ve provided him for three and a half decades.
Actually, our thanks go to them – Abe, Sherman and Schey. We have been fortunate to employ such skilled journalists, but more than that, people who care so much about their craft and their community.
Yes, we have fine younger staffers who will pick up where each of them left off. They will have some catching up to do, but they had a good head start because of the mentoring these three provided and the fine examples they set.
Karen Peterson: 253-597-8434