The first real job I ever wanted as a kid was to be a journalist. This was deemed odd at the time because my dad was a cop. I’d get to hang out with him and his firefighter buddies at the fire station while they played pinochle. My mother was a nurse practitioner and Captain in the U.S. Army. My highest aptitude was in math, in which I won awards in grade school. Why did I want to be a journalist when both my surroundings and perceived skill sets pointed in other directions?
It was because of fingers sticking out of a trunk in 1979. At least that was part of the reason. I was still in grade school when I heard the story over dinner. Gary O. Collier had been beaten, stabbed, robbed, and thrown in a trunk of a car in Birmingham, Alabama. But there was a gap between the trunk door and the car’s body that allowed him to squeeze his fingers through while his attackers drove around contemplating where to finish him off and dump the body. People would pull off and call in to police and radio stations telling of a hand waving at them from a trunk, but without cell phones available 40-years ago, nobody could get a bead on them from their last known whereabouts.
That’s when Mark Winne, an intern reporter, and veteran photographer Jerry Ayres from The Birmingham News set out to try to find the anomaly. And they did.
After a while, and just as the two had already given up hope of finding it, Winne spotted the beat-up beige Dodge travelling northbound on Interstate 20/59 in Ensley.
Winne was in the front passenger seat and Ayres was driving. They followed the Dodge through traffic moving northeast bound on the interstate. At one point Winne takes the wheel so Ayres can snap some photos of the Dodge and the hand sticking out through a crevice in the trunk.
The Dodge exited at the Airport Boulevard off-ramp as the driver of the Dodge, a woman, apparently realized they were being followed. The driver then began weaving through a neighborhood.
All the while Winne used their radio to tell their ever-changing location to on-duty editor Garland Reeves, who relayed the information to a Birmingham police dispatcher.
Police stopped the car and arrest three people – Joseph Fendley, 27, of Morris, his uncle Wilburn Fendley, 49, of Bessemer, and the driver, Robin Green, 24, of Birmingham. They also freed Collier from the trunk.
A young little me was mesmerized by the tale. I asked questions about what journalists could do and not do. I asked if they saved the man’s life, and my policeman father and nurse practitioner mother both affirmed they did. They told me that a good journalist seeks the truth, and oftentimes the truth is just as necessary as pulling a gun on a bad guy or saving a patient’s life at the hospital. That’s all I needed to know. I was hooked on the prospect.
But journalism has changed. The most notable journalists aren’t simply seeking the truth or finding ways to help people, as I naively believed they did when I was a child. Today’s journalists are ever-seeking the truth in the form of dirt. That’s not to say journalists today wouldn’t hop in the car to track down a hand waving from a trunk, but such stories are no longer fodder for those who want to become famous within their trade.
Many Americans have heard of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Very few recognize the names Mark Winne and Jerry Ayers.
I’m not going to throw stones at my fellow journalists when I’m just as guilty at working from an agenda and seeking to expose truth the behooves me. I’m a political analyst, not a news reporter. I don’t look for hands in trunks, though I’d report it if I saw it. In many ways, my romanticized recollections of what journalism meant to me as child cannot change what journalism means to me now. Maybe I should have listened to my mother and became an engineer.
40-years-ago, a man’s life was saved because two journalists got off their butts and chased down a story. Literally. Is that even possible in a world with smartphones and social media? The oddities of today get reported in real time by amateurs.
We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.
[gravityform id=”2″ title=”true” description=”false”]
Promo for Mike Lindell's New Daily Show
All ORIGINAL content on this site is © 2021 NOQ Report. All REPUBLISHED content has received direct or implied permission for reproduction.
With that said, our content may be reproduced and distributed as long as it has a link to the original source and the author is credited prominently. We don’t mind you using our content as long as you help out by giving us credit with a prominent link. If you feel like giving us a tip for the content, we will not object!
JD Rucker – EIC