WSJ Bids Farewell To Rogers, Fialka, Wood and Schmind

From an internal WSJ memo, obtained by FishbowlDC:

    Folks: As you know, four of our veterans retired from the Journal at the end of the year: David Rogers, John Fialka, Winston Wood and Sharon Schmid. Together, they represent many years of outstanding journalism and service at Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal, and we’d like to thank them here.

    David Rogers: David has been the gold standard for congressional reporters, widely acknowledged by members, staffers and other journalists on the Hill as the most knowledgeable journalist there. His knowledge of the appropriations process was such that staffers and members alike deferred to his expertise. For the 24 years he covered Congress for the WSJ, the words “David Rogers says…” were enough to give unquestioned authority to anything David reported. No one has worked harder to be complete, fair and accurate than has David Rogers. He could be tough on those he covered, but also was objective and relentlessly honest. While he looked at everything on Capitol Hill with a critical eye, he also wasn’t afraid to say when something went right in Congress.

    The list of scoops David Rogers scored would be too long for any note, but none is more memorable than his story in April 1984 disclosing the secret mining of Nicaragua’s harbors. But David didn’t simply cover Congress for the Journal. He wrote brilliant campaign stories over the course of two decades’ worth of congressional and presidential campaigns. In 1994, he returned to Vietnam, where he served as an Army medic, to write moving pieces about the country as it had evolved in the two decades since the fall of Saigon.

    John Fialka: John has had a stellar career covering Washington from all angles, on a multitude of beats, and always distinguished himself by finding stories others didn’t see and writing them with insight and grace. He joined the WSJ a quarter century ago from the Washington Star, and has covered all manner of stories since then. He’s an expert on defense and defense acquisitions; has forgotten more than most reporters will ever know about nuclear weapons and how they are produced and counted; has written wry and knowledgeable political stories; and in recent years has been an authority on energy and the environment. His coverage of electricity shortages and alternative fuels in recent years has made the Journal stand out, just to cite two examples of his recent stellar work.

    But the greatest thing about having John in the newsroom has been that, in a pinch, we always had at hand a reporter who knew enough to step into any story, any crisis, at any time. Thus, when there was a great story to be done on the battle over Jack Kent Cooke’s will, John turned out a fabulous, classic leder, though the subject was well removed from his beat. He’s a pro’s pro. And in the last year, to top that off, he’s become one of the staff’s most adept, and most watched, producers of videos for wsj.com to accompany his stories. To anybody who doubts that, just two words: flying fish.

    Winston Wood: Winston joined the WSJ from our cousins at Ottaway Newspapers, when the Ottaway bureau here closed, and he brought with him both extensive knowledge of Washington, and the kind of sparkling wit and wisdom that made him a center of sanity when things got insane around him. Winston has what you want in a good editor: a broad range of knowledge and experience in all manner of things Washington, meaning he was rarely if ever stumped by a story, no matter how arcane the topic. He moved deftly from congressional stories to economic ones to national-security pieces, and then back again, often in the same night.

    For years Winston has been the Wall Street Journal’s Washington bureau on Sundays. Monday papers wouldn’t have existed without him, it seemed. He handled the tricky business of crafting WSJ stories for a Monday paper deftly and cleverly, and our readers have been the beneficiaries. Winston’s departure marks the end of a distinguished, 24-year career within the Dow Jones family.

    Sharon Schmid: Sharon has been here when literally everybody else in the bureau first walked through the door. For 35 years, she has been much more than office manager at the WSJ Washington bureau. She has been institutional memory, handler of problems big and small, manager of budgets, keeper of statistics, provider of Wire breakfast bagels and shrewd observer of the passing scene. She has worked with five Washington bureau chiefs, and helped literally hundreds of WSJ staffers as they moved through the Washington bureau. Odds are good that we will only discover in coming months, in her absence, how many tasks Sharon has been quietly performing on our behalf all these many years. We’re fortunate that Sharon has agreed to stay on until we find her successor.

    Together, these four colleagues represent more than a century of WSJ experience. We will miss each of them dearly. We’ll be organizing a fest to toast our friends and will get back to you with a date. We’ll also take that opportunity to thank our long-time colleague John Harwood, who, as we mentioned last month, will be decamping to Brand X and a flourishing career in television.

    Regards,

    Jerry and John