Former San Francisco Chronicle labor editor Dick Meister writes about former Los Angeles Times labor reporter Harry Bernstein, who died last month.
Meister wrote, “Harry’s well-earned reputation for fairness and his standing as a leading authority on labor relations were of immense help. That gave him clear access to the many union leaders and others who hesitated to provide reporters the information they needed, for fear it would not be treated fairly or knowledgeably.
“Sometimes, Harry’s reporting and analysis of the differences that separated labor and management actually helped them reach compromises that settled their disputes.
“For a journalist to earn the trust of two warring parties certainly is exceptional, but it is — or should be — the goal of any labor reporter.
“Harry, older than I, was a role model, actually an unacknowledged mentor, as he was to others. We sometimes argued heatedly, but he was a great help to me, even though as the San Francisco Chronicle’s labor reporter at the time, I was a competitor.
“Lacking Harry’s warm gregariousness, I had a hard time approaching some national news sources who I didn’t know and who didn’t know or trust me.”
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