Don Bauder talking to Reader writer Matt Potter in 2013.
In 1960, I entered the journalism profession with a Master’s degree and an addiction to work in a field I already knew that I loved: writing and reporting. I had worked 40 hours a week as editor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus newspaper and almost that much under a fellowship as a graduate student. Initially, I erred by going into advertising and public relations, but four years later had the fortunate opportunity to join Businessweek magazine in Chicago as a reporter.
In two years, I was promoted to bureau chief in Cleveland — good duty, because it involved covering the tire, steel, and glass industries, consumer companies such as Procter & Gamble, and all manner of metal fabrication firms. After writing a big scam story, I was told I could cover organized crime in business. I did — splendidly — but the magazine wouldn’t even print smoking gun items that were a matter of public record. (Later, Forbes printed the whole story with my help — one of my greatest thrills, although my name wasn’t on it.)
So I took a job as financial editor and columnist with the San Diego Union (later Union-Tribune), and was able to chase financial bandits. But not the biggest ones. I got in trouble when I saw the planned Padres and Chargers subsidies as scams on the taxpayers. I thought billionaires should build their own stadiums, but the newspaper, which got abundant advertising from its sports pages, didn’t see it that way.
I wasn’t fired, but was a skunk at the garden party with management. Earlier, in 1981 and 1990, I had had quadruple bypass surgeries, but, thank goodness, my heart held out until I joined the Reader in 2003, and for the 15 following years in which I was encouraged to do the kind of scam reporting I loved. Working for the Reader was the highlight of my career.
However, as was inevitably going to happen, my heart is telling me to jettison my love/addiction. It appears the grafts from my earlier surgeries may be clogging. I have had some tests, will take more, and have more consultations with cardiologists. Chest pains abound. I hope an 82-year old body can take a third surgery, if that is required. Maybe I can make it without serious surgery. In any case, I must retire, and thank all the editors and blog contributors who made my Reader years such a joy. Best, Don Bauder