Renowned investigative journalist, editor Thomasson visits KCC

Dan Thomasson brought his broad and deep knowledge of investigative journalism to the classroom Monday during a visit to Kaua’i Community College.

Thomasson is a veteran investigative reporter and the former editor of the Scripps Howard News Service.

He now writes two columns a week for the Scripps Howard News Service. His words reach readers of about 450 newspapers from coast-to-coast.

He’s currently on a tour of University of Hawai’i campuses across the state.

At a sociology class at KCC Thomasson fielded questions about his take on President George Bush’s stand on Iraq.

“We had a lively discussion on Iraq,” Thomasson said of his Monday morning appearance, noting that a student had found his column on the Internet and was well versed on its contents.

In his talk with local students, he said his worry about the current stand-off with Iraq is that the longer the war is delayed, the more the life and work of the nation will be disturbed.

Thomasson said he’s not particularly supportive of a war with Iraq, as the student believed him to be, but said the situation needs to be resolved soon.

The veteran newsman knows well the political world of Washington D.C. During his long career he’s covered scandals including Sen. Ted Kennedy’s misdeeds at Chappaquiddick and the Watergate investigation during the administration of Richard Nixon.

In offering advice on investigative journalism, Thomasson said top stories usually stand out. “You can almost smell a good story,” he said.

He also advised reporters to carefully consider news leaks from government sources. Such sources almost always have a predetermined reason for leaking the news, he said, urging reporters to beware for they may be being used by the sources.

Even so, Thomasson said that during his two years of work on the Watergate scandal he found a number of government sources helpful in digging up news for his ongoing coverage.

Thomasson served with Scripps Howard for 40 years, with almost 35 of those years in Washington D.C. He was managing editor, or editor, of Scripps Howard News Service for 23 years. During his tenure the service grew from one set up to provide news only for Scripps Howard newspapers to a full-service wire service providing information to papers outside that news organization.

In 1999, upon Thomasson’s retirement as vice president of news for the Scripps Howard newspapers chain, Alan M. Horton, senior vice president of newspapers for Scripps, praised the work of the long-time journalist and editor in a column appearing in the WriteNews.com Internet-based journalism journal.

Horton wrote: “Dan has defined what investigative reporting is all about for an entire generation of newspaper journalists. His body of work, including his long tenure as head of one of the most respected supplemental news services in the world, proves his devotion to all that is good about this business.”

TGI Editor Chris Cook can be reached at ccook@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 227).

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