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To Our Readers: Mar. 4, 1996

3 minute read
Bruce Hallett

TO HEAR SENIOR WRITER ERIC Pooley talk, just about anyone could have produced this week’s investigative report on a shocking pattern of safety lapses at a nuclear power plant in Connecticut. “Basically,” says Pooley, with characteristic modesty, “it was just a classic whistle-blower tale.” No big deal.

Permit us to disagree. It’s a rare journalist who has the energy and persistence to unravel a story as tangled as this one. And Pooley, says chief of correspondents Joelle Attinger, “is one of the best I’ve ever seen. He has unlimited curiosity, and a remarkable sense of whether a source is credible or not.”

He also has an appetite for tough assignments. On graduating from Brown University in 1981, Pooley headed for East Germany and began reporting on anticommunist dissident groups. Although he had no affiliation with any news organization, papers back home, including the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Providence Journal, picked up his dispatches.

When Pooley returned to the U.S. in 1982, he joined New York magazine as a fact checker. Within five years he was a senior editor, and he went on to report and write two dozen cover stories on topics ranging from police corruption to kids who carry guns. In 1993 he became the magazine’s political columnist.

Last year TIME tapped Pooley to join an investigative team specializing in long-term, intensively reported projects. Among his stories since then: an expose of Senator Al D’Amato’s questionable fund-raising activities and an exhaustive report on Colin Powell’s wife and key adviser Alma. This week’s piece was probably the toughest of all. He not only had to unearth a carefully buried story, but he had to master the intricacies of nuclear plant operation as well. Says Pooley: “I had to keep going over the same ground before I was sure I’d got it.”

Now Pooley has to master intricacies of a different sort. He’s joining TIME’s Washington bureau to cover the White House and the Clinton re-election campaign. Although by nature a risk taker, Pooley has some concerns. “Time’s Washington bureau is an amazing group of journalists,” he says. “I just hope I can make a contribution.” Somehow, we think he’ll manage.

Emmy-winning ABC-TV news analyst Jeff Greenfield has agreed to write a column for us on politics and popular culture–“C-SPAN meets the Grateful Dead,” as he puts it. The first appears this week.

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