New at Knight Ridder  | American Journalism Review
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From AJR,   January/February 2003

New at Knight Ridder   

Veteran war correspondent Joseph L. Galloway and former Baltimore Sun editors James Asher and Stephen Henderson join Knight Ridder's Washington bureau.

By Michael Duck
Michael Duck is a former AJR editorial assistant.     


Knight Ridder's Washington bureau snags two Baltimore Sun editors and a legendary war correspondent as it beefs up investigative coverage and prepares for a possible war with Iraq.

James Asher, former metro editor for enterprise and projects at the Sun, heads a new investigative team that will take on national and international projects. Stephen Henderson, the Sun's former editorial page associate editor, is the bureau's new legal affairs correspondent. And Joseph L. Galloway, who has spent most of his career covering wars and armed conflicts, is lending his expertise and long list of sources to correspondents both in Washington and at Knight Ridder papers.

Asher, 55, calls his new position a "dream job." "The opportunity to do national investigative journalism is unusual," he says. "This doesn't happen often, and to be part of it is very exciting."

"Jim is really a top-flight journalist [and] a great investigative reporter," says Baltimore Sun Editor William K. Marimow, who also worked with Asher at Knight Ridder's Philadelphia Inquirer.

Former Inquirer Executive Editor Gene Roberts describes Asher as "amazingly persistent" and "a great source-maker" and praises his ability to coordinate a team. "He has a nice touch with people," Roberts says. "He has a sense of how to organize for a story."

Bureau Chief John Walcott says Asher's first job will be to assemble the rest of the four-member team. At AJR's press time, the bureau had hired Detroit Free Press Deputy Metro Editor Alison Young.

"The mandate is broad--the only directive I have to do is terrific journalism," Asher says.

Henderson, 32, also was interested in joining the investigative team. Then he learned the bureau needed a legal affairs correspondent. "I had always wanted to cover the Supreme Court and Washington," he says.

"It was a perfect fit," says Knight Ridder Washington Editor Clark Hoyt. "Anybody who has ever worked with Steve can attest to his intellect, his reporting and writing talent, his energy and spirit."

Sun Editorial Page Editor Dianne Donovan says she's sorry to lose Henderson, who wrote a number of editorials on gun control and the problem of violent crime in the city.

In addition to forming the investigative team, the prospect of a war with Iraq prompted Walcott to look up his friend Joseph Galloway and ask him to join the bureau as a consultant to help with war coverage. "Joe brings with him unparalleled access to the American military," Walcott says. "I don't think there is any other reporter who has the kind of access that Joe has."

Galloway developed those contacts through more than 40 years of war reporting, including two-and-a-half years in Vietnam for UPI. He later wrote a feature for U.S. News & World Report about his experience at the battle of Ia Drang that grew into the 1992 book "We Were Soldiers Once...and Young"--cowritten with retired Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore--which in 2002 was adapted into a Mel Gibson movie. He also led U.S. News' coverage of the Persian Gulf War.

Says Walcott, who worked with Galloway at U.S. News, "He's the closest thing to Ernie Pyle that any of us [are] likely to meet."

Galloway is assisting with writing, editing, developing story ideas and making contacts. And he has prepared a primer for reporters slated to go to the war zone.

But he doesn't plan on going to the front himself. "I'm too old to go to war," he says. "It's a young person's game. I'm 61 years old."

Besides, he says, "My wife says I can't go anymore."

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