the former Rochester Post Bulletin columnist’s best ever
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John Weiss was the best-known name and face of the Post Bulletin outside the city limits of Rochester. Need to know someone in Plainview? If John didn’t know the person, he’d know the person who’d know the person you needed. Need to know which roads were in danger of flooding that spring? John knew—and could tell you which roads had flooded last and who lived on them.
John was also a one-man band: he could report a hard news story, do a feature, file away a possible story angle for weeks or months later, AND take pictures to go with all of it. And you’d get all of this with his statement “I’m heading to the river” as he walked to the exit. Whenever John left the building, it was always “to the river.” Which river, you could never be sure. And how close to a river he actually got was up for debate.
I was reluctant to assign John to Back Roads at first. Who in the world is interested in the run-of-the-mill junked-up shop? What makes that woman so special? Finally, I started to see things John’s way. That junked-up shop is a treasure trove of stories. That woman’s story is unique, all the while being so typical.
All right, I finally said. Let’s give it a try. BUT, no going out of the way. It has to be something you find on your way to a legit story assignment.
Soon enough, Back Roads columns and pictures started to fill our files. Stories with hopes and dreams, and joys and sorrows. John put the folks and places that we see every day but somehow overlook into focus. John broadened our definition of neighbor and friend. —Randi Kallas, former City Editor and Newspaper in Education Coordinator, Rochester Post-Bulletin.