‘It’s all just a bunch of crap…’
Famous words from a not-so-famous person. Harriett Hindman was the matriarch and bulldog of the KTAR newsroom for almost 20 years.
I first met Harriett when I worked at the KTAR newsroom, still in college. I was hired during Christmas break of my senior year to work the assignment desk and I had a lot to learn. Thankfully, then-News Director Jeff Scott hired Harriett, and my initiation into hard news began.
Harriett had worked for the UPI bureau in Phoenix and had been creating the stats pages for the Phoenix Suns games at Veterans Memorial Coliseum since 1968.
She had a “futures file” a mile thick. Before the Internet in the news business, you actually had to know where to go on a certain day to cover a story. Harriett’s futures file was pure gold. She had kept track of every court case, police investigation, and real estate deal in Phoenix’s history. She knew what was going to happen, and when.
She would photocopy an article, write on the bottom of the page in red pen when and where to be, and hand it to a reporter. Then she would tell us where to go, when to be there,and what would happen. I’ll be damned, she was almost always right.
If she said the police would start the news conference late, they did.
If she said the judge would continue the hearing for 30 days, he did.
And if she said the fire was arson, you could be sure it was.
Not only did Harriett know what was news, she know what wasn’t, and maybe that was more important. She would call out a publicity stunt, a phony bill at the legislature and a liar.
She never worried that she would offend someone by being cranky or cynical. She just called it like she saw it, and her wisdom made up for a less-than-gentle ways.
And God help you if you got something wrong. Facts are facts, and Harriett didn’t take kindly to anyone who was casual with them. It didn’t matter who you were, or why you said it, if it wasn’t a direct quotation and you quoted it, it was a bad day.
She didn’t take well to the computer invading the newsroom. She hung on to that typewriter for longer than anyone, and when the wire service printers went the way of the dinosaur and all news was “downloaded” before it was read, she shook her finger and warned of doomsday. I wan’t sure she would adapt, but she did. Of course, not without a little complaining.
I am quoting Jeff Scott’s Facebook post (and, oh, the irony of quoting a Facebook post about Harriett. I can just hear her saying, “All you stupid people going on that silly website to tell me what you had for dinner…Honestly! You people…”) “If the KTAR news department was a family, Harriett Hindman was the matriarch. Funny, wise, cranky, compassionate, and packed from head to toe with journalistic integrity.”
Thanks Harriett, you were truly one-of-a-kind. I learned so much from you.