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Jennifer Moore’s best stories were over dinner

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Sometimes things just happen too soon. You can’t understand it. You can’t fix it. You can’t change it.

That happened to me last week when my friend of 30 years Jennifer Moore left us. She was just 64. Too young to go.

As I sat in the church service celebrating her life I couldn’t help but think about all the things we’d seen together … the news we’d covered and the life conversations we’d had. She was an accomplished journalist but when we sat down together her best stories were over dinner.

If you’ll bear with me I’d like to tell you a little about her.

Many of you will remember Jennifer as a reporter and anchor on WDIV, and others from her time as a reporter for WJR.

Jennifer was one of the first women to cover the auto and labor beats in Detroit but like many pioneering women she didn’t pay much attention to being among the “first” to do something. Still, her abilities and commitment to news changed people’s attitudes about women reporting on business.

I competed with her during my time as a reporter at Automotive News and the Detroit News and found her to be one of the most knowledgeable reporters on the beat. Her work always showed a level of understanding beyond the obvious and she had the unique ability to share that with viewers in the short time TV reporters have to tell a story. It was an amazing talent.

For example, Jennifer was on the scene when activist and former South African president  Nelson Mandela visited an auto plant Detroit in 1990 as a guest of the UAW.  She did a great job covering him but her interviews with those attending brought out the true impact he had on those he met. He inspired people to work together to change lives … something we treasure and strive to do in Detroit. That’s what she was able to bring across in her report and I believe it home to many.

Jennifer had all the qualities necessary to be an outstanding reporter. She worked her sources with finesse and discretion and always understood accuracy was more important than being first on a story. In her acceptance speech to the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame earlier this year, she said simply … “It’s good to be first, it is more important to be right.”

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Her speech should be required viewing for every budding reporter. (Thank you to WDIV for posting the speech.)

That view of journalism made her a better reporter than many. Her commitment to getting it right and doggedly pursuing the answers won her the respect of the auto industry, the business community, labor leaders as well as her fellow reporters.

As she became a senior member of the automotive press corps, by ability not age, she was always ready and willing to mentor younger reporters and helped mold many careers.

I last saw Jennifer in May for dinner. We reminisced a bit about our past careers and laughed about some of the behind the scenes things we knew about but never really wrote about. But mostly we talked about our children, our goals for them and life … and death. It was a great meal … the food was good, too. When we left we promised to get together again soon, knowing that might never happen.

It didn’t.

I’ll remember the dinner, the laughing and conversation much longer than I will remember competing with her for stories or the stories we covered. And that is the way it should be.

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