‘Something Else Entirely’

On the occasion of Studs Terkel‘s death, veteran journalist Dave Lindorff recalls (OpEd News, 11/1/08) his own 1992 book tour in which “most of the program hosts had obviously not read more than the liner notes on the dust jacket” of his book on “for-profit hospital corporations that were buying up community hospitals all over the country.” But Lindorff says that “Studs was something else entirely.” Upon meeting for an interview on his WFMT radio show, Studs immediately

began flipping intently through the pages, which I noticed were black with markings done in a thick marker pen. Passages were circled, there were exclamation marks and asterisks in the margins, and comments scrawled in a big sloppy hand. “Thereâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s just one thing I want to ask you.”… He wanted a clarification of a comment I had made about some incident involving the actions of one of the hospital chains I had been writing about.

Jeff Cohen also writes (Huffington Post, 11/2/08) of how this diligence was coupled with unbounded energy for progressive causes–“in 1986 when I launched the media watch group FAIR, Studs became a charter member of our advisory board”–and tells a remarkable tale of the journalistic benefits reaped from Studs’ insistence on “putting the stories and wisdom of poor and working class Americans on tape and the printed page”:

In 1992, when South Central L.A. erupted in riot after white cops were acquitted in the videotaped beating of Rodney King, no one was caught more off-guard than mainstream media–who (as with Hurricane Katrina years later) suddenly discovered millions of desperate inner-city Americans. But Studs was not caught by surprise. Days before the riot, his quite prophetic book–Race: How Blacks and Whites Think and Feel About the American Obsession–was hitting the stores.