Monday, February 21, 2005

Speak Slowly and Carry a Big Stick

At long last, the Washington Post devotes a homage to local NBC reporter Pat Collins. For those who live in the area, Collins is the unmistakable presence at the scene of the crime--in fact he's covered thousands of DC-area homicides through the years. Here is a classic Collins opening, as described by the Post's Paul Farhi:

"Doreen, she was just 15 years old," begins the Channel 4 reporter.... "She lived in Fairfax County." Pause.

"She was found murdered"--pause--"in Prince George's County. She'd been missing for about 12 days. Now, she'd been having some problems in school. But no one"--huge, hulking, super-dramatic pause--"no one expected something like this."

And it's not just murder. Viewers will find Collins in the middle of a snowstorm, carrying his yardstick, performing impromptu measurements. As Farhi notes, "He often looks, as his wife once put it, like a guy who got dressed in the dark. In winter, he'll go on live in full shambling glory--khaki cargo pants and V-neck sweater, maybe a fleece jacket, his tie loosely knotted."

Like John Johnson in New York, Collins is part of a dying breed. He might not be slick but he definitely isn't plastic. And he may not succeed Brian Williams or Katie Couric, but he doesn't mind. Collins simply enjoys what he does: good old-fashioned reporting.

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