Rawr rawr rawr
April 21, 2008, 4:25 pm
Filed under: Challenge, Journalism

Glenn JohnsonI received an unfortunate phone call from my editor at 8 o’clock this morning — Glenn Johnson, to whom I usually give the title “everything ever,” was in the hospital for “stroke-like symptoms.”

Bummed, but assigned a breaking-news article (woohoo!), I dragged my only-four-hours-of-sleep self out of bed and into the shower. I was kind of out of it, and still didn’t even know where to start calling once I sat down to work.

So, I called City Hall. (What a marvelous idea!) They gave me info. I also had an AP brief and a few internal WSU e-mails to work with.

I quickly wrote up a long-ish brief and posted it online — on the SportsLink blog and in the Spokesman’s breaking-news headlines. Lisa — I had called her while shaving to alert her — rang me up to tell me we both got done with the quick briefs at the same time.

I won’t bore you with the standard reporting stuff. (I got stonewalled at Pullman Regional Hospital, had a pleasant conversation with City Supervisor John Sherman and stole four minutes of Erica Austin’s time — wherein she took the opportunity to relate Johnson’s incident to how much the Murrow School needs to be the Murrow College, because they don’t want to overwork their staffers. I, uh, didn’t use that in my article.)

But if there’s one thing I’m proud of about my reporting today, it was my frustrating quest to figure out Johnson’s current age.

No one knew, and everyone said they probably wouldn’t be able to tell me anyway because of privacy laws. (Yeah, right.) None of the other news outlets had his age — mostly because the AP completely ripped off my online brief (or used it because of a contract with the Spokesman).

I started searching the internet with the intention of cross-checking bios to deduce an age. But try Googling Glenn. You get surprisingly few results of substance. I tried everything from “glenn johnson” to “glenn johnson mayor pullman wsu bio” to “karen doke 1996 glenn johnson kathryn obituary” — the latter a failed attempt to find any mention of his daughter’s death in a car accident that might give me his age in 1996.

Then I remembered one of those crazy tricks we learned in journalism class: online voter registration databases.

I found the Washington one, searched “Johnson, Glenn” and — by God — there he was. He was born Jan. 10, 1944. He’s 64.

I rule.


Here’s my finished article and blog post.

Here’s the Evergreen’s.

Get better soon, Glenn.


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[…] Monday, I got a taste of the good ol’ breaking news rush (Glenn Johnson is home from the hospital and fine, by the […]

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