Behind the Curtain at TMM

Farewell to a Colleague

John ('Jack') McWethy

hide caption Former ABC News correspondent John McWethy

ABC News

This will be brief because TMM Executive Producer Marie Nelson and I will be leaving shortly to attend the memorial service for our former colleague at ABC News John ("Jack") McWethy, who covered the Pentagon for years. You may have heard that John died in a skiing accident in Boulder, where he moved following his retirement.

I don't know how to feel about this. On the one hand, I'm glad John was doing something he loved; on the other hand, there's something that just twists me up inside — after all the time he spent in Iraq, this is how we lost him.

It's such a cliche, but it is true that John was both a reporter's reporter and a gentleman. If you saw his coverage, you will know what I'm saying is true. He knew his stuff better than anybody. He was never rude. He never seemed to tip his hand on a story. You trusted him. And, on a personal note, when I was at the Wall Street Journal and contemplating a move to television, more specifically ABC, John was one of the people who talked to me about what it was really like (he had also been a print reporter, for U.S. News & World Report). I didn't see him often, but he was always kind and supportive when I got there. You cannot say that about everybody.

While the shark nature of broadcast television is sometimes overstated, it is definitely there. And when you find somebody who takes the time to help you, or look out for you ... or show you the ropes, you definitely remember it.

Anyway, so sorry to lose you, John. Hope there's some great hills and fresh snow wherever you are.

Marie, do you want to add anything?

I think you put it perfectly. Thanks for the offer.

See you tomorrow.

Happy Valentine's Day to you all. I hope you get all the chocolates you want from the person (people?) you want ...

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Nice thoughts. I too attended McWethy's service. I didn't know him well. But in 2001, I co-wrote a book, Running Toward Danger, about journalists on 9/11 and interviewed Jack in-depth about that emotionally charged day.

He told the story of trying to get through to ABC's desk in NYC after he finally had comandeered a pay phone.

A security guard ordered him to get off the phone. "I'm a reporter," he shouted at the guard, while on hold for seemingly forever. "Go ahead and shoot me. I'm not getting off the phone."

Your readers might also appreciate the advice Jack imparted to students: Don't take a laxative and a sleeping pill at the same time!

But what else came through clearly at the service is how important Jack thought it is for all of us to draw distinct lines between work and family; and not let work become your life.

Lisa Shepard
NPR,Ombudsman

Sent by Lisa Shepard | 6:19 PM | 2-14-2008

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