The Investigative Report That Defined a Career

By Andrew Gauthier 

Funeral services were held on Saturday for Jim Rieske, a former investigative reporter from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and a fixture at WZZM-TV for 25 years. Mr. Riekse, 63, died last Wednesday.

According to many that knew him, Rieske’s career could be summed up by one particular piece of hard-nosed investigative reporting: “King of Newaygo” was a 10-part investigative series that aired on WZZM-TV in November 1980. It focused on questionable deals and conflicts of interest involving Cal Deitz, an infamous real estate broker, and public officials. During the WZZM’s investigation, Deitz and his colleagues repeatedly engaged in acts of intimidation. On one particular occasion, Deitz sped his car up to hit Rieske while he reported on-camera.

Mark Lagerkvist, who worked with Rieske on the “King of Newaygo” series (and was also attacked during the investigation) was kind enough to share video footage with TVSpy. We have posted the report on our YouTube channel. Lagerkvist on Rieske: “Jim Riekse was a heroic character, driven by an acute sense of social justice and a burning passion for investigative journalism. He never backed away from tough stories worth telling–despite legal threats, pressure from advertisers and physical danger.”

Video: “King of Newaygo”