There’s probably no other journalist we have written about on this blog who has elicited more comments than Steve Wilson.
One of the great characters of the TV news business, Steve draws audience, makes enemies of bad guys (particularly elected officials) and ends up being the subject of other journalists’ stories, wherever he works. In Detroit, he built a big following on TV and online in his pursuit of the truth about Detroit’s ex-Mayor and other high-profile reporting targets.
Last I wrote about him, in 2010, Steve had left ABC affiliate WXYZ-TV in a contract dispute and set off to start a nonprofit, on-line investigative reporting outlet. I included it in a lengthy piece I wrote for Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Soon after getting it up and running, though, Steve was nearly killed by a heart attack. He moved back to Florida full-time to focus on his health.
Yesterday, he announced that he’s headed back to TV, hired by a Gannett-owned ABC/NBC affiliate combo in Jacksonville. There, no doubt, he’ll make politicians squirm and lead viewers to watch the news more than they would otherwise.
When he left WXYZ-TV, I expressed doubt on whether they would be able to attract an audience, particularly at 11pm, without Wilson’s reporting, which had raised the bar for investigative work in Detroit and gave viewers a reason to stay up late to tune in (or go online the next morning to watch what they missed). To the station’s credit, the team of Scott Lewis, Heather Catallo, Bill Proctor and Wilson protege Ross Jones has filled the void, breaking stories and using the TV and web media well to provide viewers with investigative content.
We’ll keep an eye on Wilson’s reporting from Jacksonville. Chances are, it will be worth sharing with a national audience.