I had planned to take this day off, but I am moved to write this short note in memory of Alan Lupo, a beloved Boston reporter, who died today. I am lucky to be among those many who were blessed by friendship with this fine, kind, thoughtful, and genuine man. Over the past year, he was a patient at our hospital, and as much as it saddened me to see him there, I rather selfishly was pleased that I had a chance to spend time with him during my visits to his room. I loved his company. We had lots of good laughs and traded stories from the past 3+ decades of life in Boston.
When I say that Alan was a reporter, I choose the word carefully. I don't mean journalist, although that could apply, too. I mean that he was a down-in-the-streets reporter, who got news stories and columns the old fashioned way. He would talk to people and ask questions. And they were great questions, probing to the heart of the matter at hand. They could be tough questions, but they were never mean. (Actually, as I think about it, I don't ever recall Alan being mean.)
My first exposure to this guy was in the 1970s when I watched a show called The Reporters on WGBH, the local public TV station. Here's how it worked. Alan and his colleagues would walk around the streets of the city with a still camera and take black-and-white pictures and conduct interviews. The news would then be presented as a voice-over on TV, with the pictures of the interviewees and of the street scenes and other pertinent views. I think I recall that each segment lasted about 15 minutes, but I might be wrong about that. If you have watched Ken Burns' specials, you can get the idea, but this was not a history show. It was a current events news and feature show. It was engrossing, informative, entertaining, and gave as complete and fair a presentation on each story as you could imagine.
I was always sad that The Reporters went off the air. I assume it could not compete with the glitzier news programs that are based on television stations' belief that viewers have attention deficit disorder. But, I actually think there could be a place for such a show even today -- if it were done with the professionalism, depth, and empathy shown by Alan and his colleagues.
I have not met a person in Boston who knew Alan who did not love and admire him. Think of that. A person who conducted investigative journalism in one of the toughest political environments in the country, and he ends up beloved and admired. Over these last few months, as I have talked with other people who knew that he was terminally ill, none of us could mention him without choking up in sadness at the thought of losing him. Now we have lost him, and the tears can flow freely, as they do as I write this on the eve of a holiday that is otherwise wrapped in happiness and hope for the coming year.