OLD Media Moves

From financial futures to front-page features

February 19, 2012

Posted by Chris Roush

John Bussey of The Wall Street Journal remembers how The Journal’s Jeff Zaslow, who died last week, made the transition from covering business news to other topics.

Bussey writes, “Hello, I’m here on behalf of Jeff’s many friends at the Wall Street Journal.

“I met Jeff on my first day with the Journal in the Chicago bureau in 1983. Jeff had started the previous week. I asked him: ‘So, what’s your beat?’

“Jeff paused for a moment and then said in a serious tone: ‘Financial Futures.’ Then he burst out laughing in that engaging and knowing laugh he had. He kept on laughing and soon I was kind of laughing too, and wondering: Why am I laughing? I have no idea what Financial Futures are.

“But that was the point: Neither did Jeff.

“In a colossal mismatch, the well-intentioned forces of the universe had taken our budding Michelangelo and, for the moment, assigned him to the equivalent of the paint department of an auto repair shop — in this instance to enlighten readers about forward currency contracts on the pound sterling and Malaysian ringgit. It was my first introduction to Jeff’s keen appreciation of life’s quirkiness, and the first round of what would be 29 years of laughing with my friend.

“It didn’t take long for Jeff to escape the finance beat and start writing beautiful page-one stories about overnight workers in office buildings and the isolated lives of Norwegian bachelor farmers. It would be a continuous trajectory upward from there: as a page-one writer for the Journal, a Sun-Times advice columnist, back to the Journal as an award-winning columnist writing about life’s transitions, and as an author of best-selling books.”

Read more here.

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