Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Boston loses a key observer

I was sorry to learn the other day that Boston Globe columnist Steve Bailey will be leaving for a job in the UK. Here's the pertinent excerpt from the story on Boston.com.

Bailey, 57, who in his three decades at the Globe has earned a reputation as one of its most dogged reporters and widely read columnists, will move to London to join Bloomberg News as a senior enterprise editor, "finally yielding to his wife's wish" that his family live closer to her home country of France, according to an internal memo by editor Martin Baron announcing the staff changes.

I don't recall the first time Bailey covered a story involving or quoting me. The Globe archive lists one back in 1998, but I think some were earlier. Then, there were regular ones through the present. His questions in preparation for these stories were incisive and thought-provoking and actually made me re-think my position on issues from time to time. You could never tell where this liberal-conservative-socialist-capitalist columnist would come out on an issue. Many people around town claimed to have a policy of never talking to him because of this unpredictability, but they were lying: He had the best Rolodex in town and could always find sources for any story. Why? Because he was utterly trustworthy. Phrases and sentences would not be taken out of context. Also, "off the record" really meant off the record. Bailey would never burn a source. As a result, he was one of very few opinion columnists who would actually break news stories.

Bailey's degree of institutional memory for matters relating to Boston politics and business is extraordinary and his departure leaves the city a bit poorer in that regard. On a personal level, though, what I will miss is those calls, starting "This is Bailey. What do you know about...." and waiting with bated breath to see what would come out in print a day or two later.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

An honest and smart reporter? Seems an oxymoron - but then I live in Washington, hotbed of gossip and disinformation.
BTW, Paul, you taught me "arrogated" so I'll return the favor - I believe it is "bated" breath. Perhaps short for "abated"?

Onehealthpro said...

Sounds like a tremendous loss. I worry that media is less interested in getting the facts and more interested in entertainment. Recently news coverage has taken to splicing clips from movies or late night comics in news coverage. I fear this dumbing down is leaving serious folks with the impression there is nowhere to turn to find realiable facts.
Onehealthpro

Paul Levy said...

Thanks, anon, I fixed it. When I wrote "baited" I had a niggling feeling that it was the wrong fish, so I appreciate the correction!

Nancy T said...

Paul, I could not agree more about Steve. He's a wonderful writer, a fearless reporter and such a trustworthy person. I'll miss the "This is Bailey..." greeting also--it's a classic. I wish him and his family all the best in London--maybe se can get him to blog about football. I have my fingers crossed that he develops a love of Chelsea....