Bill Bartholomew welcomes multi-award winning WPRI Investigative Reporter Tim White to the loft for a wide-ranging conversation on media, Rhode Island politics, the legacy of The Mafia in Rhode Island, and building his own brand of reporting as the son of legendary journalist Jack White
Speaker 1:0:04Newtown podcast. Welcome to another edition of the Bartholomew town podcast. I'm your host, Bill Bartholomew from our Providence Rhode Island studios. I sit down with investigative reporter
Speaker 2:0:19Tim White. Tim White is an award winning investigative reporter for wp Channel Twelve in Providence, Rhode Island. The son of legendary journalist, Jack White. Tim has built a reputation of his own as one of the preeminent members of the southern New England media, as well as an author and podcast guest on the popular providence mob themed series, crimetown. Our conversation touched on Kim's journey in media, Rhode Island politics, changes throughout the media industry and how his own peer group of reporters and producers have built a distinct and in depth brand of journalism at wp Ri. Okay. Right before we get to my conversation with Tim White, some great news for residents and enthusiasts of Bartholomew town, particularly those of you who use Amazon's Alexa. Now all you have to do is say, Bartholomew town and Alexa will deliver you the latest episode of the podcast. For those of you who don't use Amazon's Alexa product, certain so forth, you can simply find us on spotify as well as apple podcast. Tune in radio, stitcher, and always add bartholomew town.com. And our I podcast.com. Okay. Uri is straight from his channel 12 suv. Mr Tim White. All right, so we are here at the Bartholomew town long with the great tim white. Thank you so much. Your your bar per grade is really low. Well, we're in Rhode Island here, so what can we expect? Right? You know what I mean? Box. Exactly. Yeah. Fund size or whatever it is, you know, one size greatness from wp I and multi award winning journalist, author and also
Speaker 3:2:12podcast starring away from crime town. Oh yeah. That was a lot of fun to work in that project. We can talk about it if you want, but they did. They devoted a whole episode to the book I coauthored on the bonded vault heist, the last good heist, the last good heist and that was. I was really interested to see how they were going to do that and how that was going to come out in, you know, I gave him a lot of recordings of interviews we did and things like that and they were phenomenal storytellers and I won't lie. It was good for book sales. I could have mentioned it came right out before Christmas and I was like, oh right. Yeah, that's a great podcast. That's probably the first podcast that I ever really listened to, you know what I mean? Did to be honest as far as getting the entire series and going deep with it. Yeah. Well good storytelling like that is just gonna gonna lock in. No diabetes, especially up here in Rhode Island.
Speaker 2:3:00I was in middle school when operation plunder dome broke. So you know, you were in middle school. I was in middle school and really upsetting to me just so you know how I feel about it after like our roommates are 10 years younger than us here know, I'm always like, wow, you are. You didn't even know. You know, you haven't lived post nine slash 11 essentially. Wait, okay. Yeah, it gets worse, it gets worse as you go along. Where today you're, you're at WPI, you've been there now for 12 years. That's right. That's right. You are probably considered one of the, if not the lead, political and investigative reporter in the state. What's that position like for you as far as in the community? They're the responsibility that you have and also the relationships that you've built with people around the state, whether in government or other reporters or wherever it may be. What's that being at? Being sort of a, not just a reporter, but someone who you've got your, essentially a mentor to a lot of other people.
Speaker 3:3:57Well, you get into journalism because you hope to make a difference, right? I mean, that's why we, we dive in, you hope not every story is going to change a law and not every story is going to get someone wrongfully convicted out of prison or, or whatever it might be, but you have those moments and those are the ones that you live for. And I, and I find in Rhode Island, uh, we, because of our size, we feel things a lot more here. People are more connected there. The degrees of separation are a lot more trim and I've worked, I worked in Boston for a long time, uh, and I loved it up there. Great City. But the differences with local news, particularly you are more connected to your community down here, um, you, when I go grocery shopping, people stop you. Hey, that story you did or I got an, I got an idea for you.
Speaker 3:4:50Things like that. And by the way, those things work. Some stories have come out of aisle five at stop and shop, you know? And that's what I, that's what I love about reporting here. And it's a television terms, it's, it's considered a medium sized market. So there are 300 something markets in the country, right? Number one being the largest New York's Angeles, Los Angeles is to, when I was in Boston, it was five, I think with the population drop. It's seven. Providence is about 50 to 52, I, I, but it's in that area. And then on down you go to North Dakota down in the three hundreds, so it's actually a decent sized market, but it's because we're so compressed here we are, if not the most densely populated state in the country. One of one point, 1 million people just in that includes southeastern Massachusetts in the market in all of that.
Speaker 3:5:40So it is a good size market, but it has a tight knit, small town feel. And when you drop a big story and it has an impact, I think the ripple effects are felt more here. So that's been the last 12 years. One of the things that's really stood out to me, and briefly to cap off the answer, the other thing I like about Rhode Island and southeastern mass is accessibility to newsmakers. Um, when you're in larger markets. When I was in Boston, you had layers of bureaucracy and pr people or as I like to call them, you know, the people who spend the dark arts with all due respect, the dark arts to get through here, you know, and of course experience in years here, you know, you pick up cell numbers and you work on your, your outlook contact list, um, and you sort of compile all those, but it's easier to get to the, to the newsmakers we call them or the policymaker, whatever it might be than it is in the larger markets.
Speaker 3:6:42And I think that there's a value as a journalist here too, that if that makes sense. Absolutely does. I mean you can wear from where we are right now and from where wprs studios are located, you can get to the state house in what, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, easily, easily. And you can certainly get to almost anywhere else in the state if a story breaks in westerly woonsocket, um, you know, are out on the East Bay or whatever. It's accessible. It's not even within New York City. Similar to Boston, you know, if something were to come up in another borough, you know, it might take you two hours to forget it, forget it. Absolutely, and just as a family guy, it's nice if I have a live shot in coventry at 6:00, I could still be home before 7:00 at night when I, you know, in Boston that is, that is not the case now.
Speaker 3:7:26I had a different role in Boston. I was managing editor for the CBS affiliate was behind the scenes behind the scenes, so that job was more deciding what we're going to cover a and the overall day to day operations of a, of a pretty good size newsroom. My job here, I like to say I knew a little bit about everything in Boston here. I know a lot about fewer things because I focus my energy on certain stories. By the way, can I just say, I said the dark arts comment a ingest. I say to my friends who are pr people who work in government or in private business that they spend the dark arts, but who knows? Maybe I might be spending the dark arts sometime down the road. Who knows?
Speaker 3:8:10Right. What's the, uh, channel 12, you know, I grew up a channel 10 junkie. Um, but exactly. I wrote to art lake and Franklin and got their head shots or whatever. But, but it's interesting because it channel 10 was sort of this monolithic no network in a way that, that existed and it, and it, it maybe it was resources, maybe it was just branding it, it was, it always felt like the other networks wl one and Wpr we're sort of this almost part of an alternative media market in a way. And I think that that position almost now has turned favorable because it's, you have this peer group of yourself and Dan McGowan and wall Butoh and, and a nice Ted Niecy of who,
Speaker 2:8:56yeah, you have this more, almost like substantive intellectually driven product in a way. And you feel like that long tail approach has paid off for whether or not you're, you've caught 10 in the ratings, but just as far as the credibility and who your listeners are, the quality of your, your audience, do you feel like that's. Yes.
Speaker 3:9:17So I'm really proud of the people you rattled off and there was a lot of people too that you wouldn't know the names of that Wpi, Wpi invested in investigative journalism. I arrived here in 2006 at about that time. And the timing was good because the financial collapse happened in 2008 and no one felt it harder than Rhode Island. And you know, even with the economy, good now we're still feel like we're sort of clawing our way out of it. And a lot of newsrooms shrank at that time. Our general manager then decided this is the opportunity where we need to, uh, not, you know, not just grow a newsroom, but we need to do enterprise journalism, right? We need to dig into things that are affecting taxpayers and look at that. Um, and I, I like to say that the investigative unit at channel 12 really was built on the embers of the recession and that helped us a lot and I thought there was some, some good foresight there.
Speaker 3:10:14So I'm really proud of the people you named and then the people you don't know that we're, that are the support staff. Uh, you know, for every story you see on TV that the investigative unit does it channel 12. There's like a dozen that never make it. So you need sort of the infrastructure to be able to, uh, to work on that. And Rhode Island is a news market. Like I said, when I came down to Boston, obviously I knew a lot about Rhode Island. Uh, I was born in Newport, grew up on the Cape, but we watched the providence stations on Cape Cod as a kid. My father was on channel 12 for a long time, so, uh, I was very familiar with it. But in, in Boston, most people aren't home for the 6:00 news. They're still trying to get from the financial district to Wakefield or Oxford or whatever it might be.
Speaker 3:11:04Um, and they're still on the road, the 11:00 news. More people tuned in here. People get home a little bit sooner in people here, consumed the news, they watch, you can see the household numbers. They watch a and in now they're consuming it in alternative ways. Uh, so where people get their news is kind of less important to me. Then if they're consuming it one thing, channel 10 has always had going for it. And they do great work over there. I'm friendly with people over there. Of course we're competitors, but they were on the air first and you grew up as a kid watching channel 10 probably because your parents watched channel 10 and your parents parents watch channel 10. So, uh, that has really pushed us at channel 12 to work hard. We have to, they keep us on our toes over there as they should.
Speaker 3:11:53And I think healthy markets have competition in the worst thing that could happen in Boston for the Boston Herald to go away because the Boston Herald is a scrappy little newspaper that really pushes the globe, would loathe to commit it to admit it, but they, they pushed the Boston Globe in a competitive way. Um, and I think that's, that's important. And by the way, the way the media landscape is now, it's no longer TV versus print. We're all kind of in one big pool that the Internet, digital has really gotten rid of the, between the two mediums. And we're all sort of playing in that space.
Speaker 2:12:31The artists essentially Internet
Speaker 3:12:33be liquid. We, I talked to journalism students, I always ask who wants to get into TV? Who wants to do print? Okay, forget it because you're doing all of it now. A newspaper, I compete in the Emmy awards now against the Boston Globe and other newspapers that didn't use to happen anymore. And we should because they turn out some great documentaries and some, some very, very good multi media visual audio products. So you have to be a multithread, for lack of a better word, in the modern journalism world. First and foremost, you have to be a good writer if you're not a good writer and you can't. You can do all the research in the world bill and do all the reporting out of a story. But if you can't tell the story effectively, all that work is for nothing in writing for TV is very different than writing for print. I won't get into the weeds for you, but even tenses are different. So you have to be able to modulate between those two styles, you know? So it's a lot more. Boy, I'm getting like an anxiety attack.
Speaker 2:13:33[inaudible] I talked to you. Oh my gosh. Where are we as an industry?
Speaker 3:13:36How much more work do I have to do now than I did 20 years ago? But anyway.
Speaker 2:13:40Well, the parallel is certainly their music for one, I've the best songs I think I've ever written has been when I've been around either in a living situation or in a city situation, another songwriter or two or three or four who are also making great work and they're pushing you in that healthy competition. It does something to the atmosphere of the intangible things that we don't understand as humans. Somehow it fires off better products, so I think you're completely. I'm sure you're completely right about that, is that you push each other and I will say that Wpi has absolutely. To me as a. As someone who's watched Rhode Island media since I can probably 92, I guess I've been following it even when I was away for 10 years. Your brand has. Yeah, it's grown exponentially over the last 10, 15 years here as far as being a very specific outlet and it's not just another, you know, you're not just flipping between. There's A. There's a reason you would go to [inaudible] dot com that I would have a story broke. You know, that's the first thing I'm probably going to look for is, is uh, Ted Niecy tweet on it. You know what I mean? There's something there about,
Speaker 3:14:46I knew I liked you, but you're right, local local news. We have to cover the community. We do. We have to cover the fires. Even if a fire broke out in south kingstown in your neighborhood, you might not be a local news watcher all the time, but you're going to turn, you're going to turn on the news at night. So you have to provide the basic blocking and tackling of covering your community. That's very important in that includes covering local football games. If you go to the, your kid's football game or hockey game and you see a channel 12 camera, they're, you know, they're covering your community. You're going to turn on the news so you can see how you know the, your kid on tv, even though you were at the game, you're going to watch that. What I also think is important is beyond covering the, the basics of local news.
Speaker 3:15:32Uh, the crime in the politics is doing that enterprise journalism that doesn't come on a press release, it doesn't come in over their scanners or through breaking news that you're, uh, you're looking a little bit deeper into the community to find out how things are working or sometimes more importantly not working and exposing those things. And I think the more you do that, uh, the more value people see in your product that like, okay, they're there doing what we need them to do. We watched Tony truck and the weather so I know what to wear tomorrow. Or when I say watch that can be on your iphone, you know, whatever it might be. We all consume news differently, but I'm also hopefully going to learn something I didn't know before and I'm not going to see on the other stations are. I'm not going to see in the, in the Providence Journal that you have to separate yourself with good journalism.
Speaker 2:16:22Another aspect I go into sort of a step further has been, I feel, um, the, the members of the Wpr I guess reporter, you know, click will say that this seems to exist or, or peer group, um, you all have individually done a great job at branding yourself, whether it's as individuals as well, but it doesn't undermine the station. That's a unique balance. That's a difficult thing to do. So, so people really know, uh, Dan McGowan and his facebook group or whatever it is that, you know, that's, that's something that's new to me that you, you, you never really felt that, but it was much more organizationally driven. And now it seems that it's a balance of both. Is that, is that a fair?
Speaker 3:17:03Yeah, it's a tricky balance to bill and we were sitting in provenance as we have this conversation. Um, and no one covers providence better than Dan McGowan. You bring up his facebook group, what a great example of an extension of his journalism at Wpi that he maintains on his own in the, in the community of providence that want to be plugged in or plugged into that facebook group. I mean, anytime I do a story, my job in the investigative unit is I, I kinda parachute into. I have A. I have a couple of beats, but I will parachute in. For instance, Ted [inaudible] at the State House quite a bit, right? I am not there every single day, but I'll parachute in and do a story on John Carnavale, a state rep not living in the district that he says he does and then I sort of come back out.
Speaker 3:17:55I'm Dan is able to file stories that are important to the city of providence consistently. Now, the trick with social media, social media can be a such a high value for reporters and for news outlets, but it can also be a minefield and what I think good reporters do, Dan and Ted included in everybody I work with at channel 12 years. You have to view the social media as an extension of your professional life. Um, if you go to my twitter feed, you're not going to see pictures of my kids. I'm at Second Beach, right? I mean, that's not what my, the people who follow me on twitter want to see, right? They are, they're following me because they're interested in politics, how government works, public corruption, maybe organized crime, which I report on as well. Um, and so I have to focus on that and I'm also not going to be tweeting out, you know, how I had a Lousy Cup of coffee at starbucks or something like that.
Speaker 3:18:56But it, you laugh, but you see, you see a lot of that, like just garbage and it undermines, I think I hate the word brand, but it undermines your brand. So it's, it's tricky to balance social media. Again, it's a high value because you are getting people interested in something that you feel you feel strongly about or you're working on I should say. And that can be the front porch into the house in the house being the main wp Ri Platform. And in reading the full article or maybe watching it on tv or something like that. Right? Yeah. It is definitely a tricky balance as well of not falling out of the algorithms that, you know, get your posts out there but also not overdoing it. It's, it's kind of annoying. Yeah. Well look at, this is above my pay grade, but there are people at Wpi and I'm sure at channel 10 and you know, I know in Boston that they have to keep up with the algorithms of facebook to know like when they launched facebook live, facebook would wait those posts higher.
Speaker 3:20:02So instead of just posting a video now there's an encouragement for if the report, if the report is on a scene and breaking news or something like that and they can, they have the opportunity to do it, to go with facebook live and in viewership for lack of a better word, a depending on the time of day for something like that, you know, can be very high. But again, that's because facebook has prioritized facebook live six months from now. It might be something different that we can't even think of. And you have to keep up with that sort of thing. Luckily I don't have to do that or my head would explode. Like I said, it is. It is very time consuming and specific. So there's a whole careers are made of just trying to navigate that thing. Absolutely. No question about it. What's up Rhode Island politics. If we may, just real briefly,
Speaker 2:20:48what's your take on where we're at right now? As far as the gubernatorial race to me, more interestingly, the lieutenant gubernatorial race. Just how things are shaping up. We seem to have several factions of positions in Rhode Island right now. What interests you about the lieutenant governor race? Well? Well there's two things. One that it hadn't really received any attention for a while until it kind of. Now it's getting a little bit more attention. It's like the corner of the State House, right? The lieutenant governor's off absolutely. Room to 16, but it's, it's what really fascinates me about it is that it has gotten to the point where with Ian died, I woke up. Don Don says, tweet on Sunday of Lieutenant Governor Mckee side by side with Michael Earnhardt at a barbecue or something, a backyard barbecue. Evidently someone, a navy, not officially from Reagan Brooks camp, but someone unofficially tied to rake in Burke had taken the photo and it just seems like we're getting into the point of silly season now a little bit with that race. Oh, you haven't seen anything about AIDS except it's gonna. It's gonna come.
Speaker 3:21:52Oh, it is. I agree with you in the lieutenant governor's race, which is why I wanted to ask your opinion and I think that's the lieutenant governor's race is a good barometer on this Democratic Party in Rhode Island right now. Uh, you have the moderate. I'm Dan, Mickey of, of the Democratic Party. And then you have more of the progressive state representative Aaron Reagan Berg and the real grass root campaign that Aaron is a, is getting, moving and whatnot. And that. So we have a very left candidate in Aron and Dan is more on the right side of the Democratic Party. Um, and I think that particularly in a midterm election with a very, very conservative president, I'm right now in Donald Trump, you're seeing the progressive wing supercharged energized throughout the country. But obviously what we care most about is, is here in Rhode Island and, and, um, whether it was intentional and not, maybe Aaron Rosenberg was thinking of doing this for a couple of years now, you know, certainly he can capitalize off of that energy that's happening right now.
Speaker 3:23:03We're seeing some general assembly candidates as well that are, uh, you know, on the progressive side and they're, they're energized. We have seen more women run, which is a good thing. So, uh, I am interested even though the governor's race, which, which I think is a mistake on the part of the media, uh, we tend, the governance rates tends to suck the oxygen out of the room and in you understand why because so much money spent on that race and you see a lot of television ads and a lot of facebook ads and things like that because they have the deeper pockets. But um, you know, the General Assembly is really where the power is held in Rhode Island and in the microscope should be on that and then a race like, well, who cares about the lieutenant governor and things like that. Well, you know, they don't make a lot of headlines, but we're interested because of what it means, I think politically in Rhode Island and what it's going to tell us about where Rhode Island is moving, moving as a whole.
Speaker 3:24:01The question's going to be turnout in the Democratic primary. I think that'll be the. I'll let analysts tell you if it's a high turnout, is that better for Aaron Reagan Burger? Is that better for Dan, Mickey? I won't get into that sort of analysis. We'll let Joe Fleming do that. You should have him on. Yeah, absolutely. But, uh, you know that I think just if turnout is high, uh, for a primary, which traditionally are very low, particularly in non presidential years, I think that's going to be really telling bill about what people's attitudes are right now. People vote angry. Uh, and I think if the numbers are high, that'll tell us that people are, are pretty pissed off.
Speaker 2:24:43Absolutely. And what it'll be interesting to see is if, whether those votes that may potential voters, they may potentially come in for Reagan Berg are somehow aligned with Matt Brown and potentially a Patricia Fonts in the United States Senate race. So it's a very interesting. That's why I'm fascinated by the lieutenant governor's race as you say as well. It's going to really define how much this progressive movement resonates with people. Wills someone who right now is, you know, out there marching with Aaron Reagan Berg, maybe a 20 year old kid. Will they actually show up with 15, 20 of their friends on September twelfth and Cassie, 15, 20 votes for Reagan Berg, or is it going to be more like Bernie Sanders where there were a lot more people in the streets and rallying then that actually turned out at the polls in some cases,
Speaker 3:25:30one other race. When it comes to progressive impact, I think that that should be watched very closely. Once again, is the reelection campaign of how Speaker Nicholas matty yellow, now state, it's just a few thousand people that determine a state rep, but because he's a house speaker, it feels like a statewide race. Right. And he's a very moderate Democrat, very moderate Democrat. He's in a very conservative district and Cranston, um, yet he is being challenged once again by Stephen Fry, us, and I'll never forget two years ago when Joe Trillo the republican state lawmaker was still an office. He's now as you know, running for governor as an independent, but he's a real. He's a trump conservative guy. He actually, if memory serves, I don't know if he said right out, he didn't want Steve to when, who was a republican, but he had concerns about Steve Price wanting.
Speaker 3:26:25Why? Because he said he didn't want to see a progressive as a house speaker that, that he felt that at least Nick Maddie yellow was a bit of a buffer between that far left of the Democratic Party in the state of Rhode Island and you know, a more moderate Democrat. And you know, remember nick, matty is a, is a pro gun guy, you know, he has, he has a life at least as a personal personal statement, so he had. So you go down the list and there are some policy hat he has that tend to lean a little bit toward the right. And look, that's, I think that's reflective of his district. It's, it's, again, repeating myself, it's a pretty conservative district. But if Steve fries in Nick, man, all I think is going to have a tough reelection campaign to some headlines that have, that he's going to have to overcome. If Steve [inaudible] winds is a Republican, then all highs are going to be all right. Who's going to be the next house speaker? And that's a whole set of dominoes that, that are going to fall. So that to me is another race that I'm very interested in. And even though the vast majority of Rhode Islanders don't vote in, in the district Ttm, uh, they are, uh, you know, the impact of that race is gonna really affect us all. Undoubtedly.
Speaker 3:27:38Crimetown let's just go. Let's just go there for for one second, politics to cry. What an odd connection here as we sit and providence. What was it like for you? What's it like for you to examine this issue and realistically we get growing up around here, there's a lot of legacy issues, you know? Oh yeah, the mob controls providence through highways the way it is because of mob properties, but your work has really dug into the realities of of these activities that may even be going onto at some level to this day. You're recently covering the trial in Boston Cadillac, Frank Salami, the mob boss out of Boston who had strong ties. That trial took place in Boston, but Rhode Island was front and center. You had Rhode Island organized crime figures that were testifying in that, which is why I would take that brutal trip into Boston everyday to to cover it sometimes having to leave at 5:30 in the morning.
Speaker 3:28:32I know cry me a river, but it was. It was a 93. They're backed up and I commute in and out of Boston for like almost a decade and it's so much worse now. Good luck to them. If Amazon HQ two moves in, here's my thing on organized crime and I'll just little behind the scenes here, almost anytime I file a story on organized crime and La Cosa Nostra in, in Rhode Island, which isn't every day, but when I do, inevitably I walked back in my office and the phone is ringing and either I'll get it there in time or they leave a voicemail and it's somebody who is complaining saying, you know, the streets were safer when, you know, Raymond Patriotic, uh, ran the show. Um, and, and to me, that's revisionist history and I think that's why it's important. Even though the mob, the traditional mafia, as we as we know it here in the northeast, is really a shell of itself from what it was back in those days.
Speaker 3:29:32Um, it's important to know where we came from. Um, organized crime held Rhode Island back. And to say that it made it a better is a lie and it's important to push back at the godfather soprano's sort of imagery that makes it glamorous because it's not glamorous in the lie that a mobster's didn't deal in narcotics. And we're above all that is one that's perpetuated in, is maddening. They make money any way they can in narcotics. They would push drugs into poor neighborhoods because there were some money now early on, there might've been some reticence to that. But boy, that change when you figured out how much money you can make off of coke and heroin and, you know. So I think it's important to remind people of our history because it looked every city in the state in, excuse me, in the country, has some sort of organized crime faction b at the traditional, the Cosa Nostra be at the Latin kings, but you know, whatever it might be.
Speaker 3:30:44Um, so the law enforcement has to battle that depending on who's in power. But in Rhode Island I just, we, we feel it more here. In New York they had five families, right? We have the one patriarch, a crime family, a testament to the patriarchal family that we still refer to it as that he died. Raymond Ellis Petri died in 1984 a, but we still call it the patriarch of crime family. We have it, but we felt it here more. You know, they had, they operated as a secondary government. They had cops in their back pockets. I had judges, the State Supreme Court judge had a relationship with, with the patriarchal family. Uh, back in the eighties, goods and services were more expensive here. You know, the cost of doing business was higher because you had to pay the, you know, you had to pay and who pays that, right? We do, you know, when we have to, when you're building a home or whatever it might be, that sort of influence has waned quite a bit, but that is the foundation of which the state is built on.
Speaker 3:31:45Warts and all. That is who we are and we can't forget that, you know. So that is a lot of the reason why I think it's important to, to keep tabs on it. And the other reason to do it is because sometimes right sometimes wrong, uh, the federal government, the state government spent a shitload of money on battling, you know, organized crime, and it's good to look at, okay, was this money well spent or could it be used over here? Um, and how efficient are they at doing that? And, and, and whatnot. And sometimes, you know, we look at the days of Whitey bulger when I started in news in the nineties, is when Whitey bulger went on the Lam up in Boston and I had a front row seat to that and that was a corrupt FBI FBI organization that had picked sides in organized crime.
Speaker 3:32:33They decided to pick the Irish mobster over the Italian mobsters, uh, to, for professional gain for the FBI, whatever. But what he boulder was murdering people and pumping drugs into South Boston in the FBI turned a blind eye to it because they were able to get some pretty good grabs with Le Cosa Nostra figures based on the information mainly that Stephen f the riflemen Flemmi was giving. But, uh, but he was tied in with, with Whitey bulger. And that's a real dark cloud over the storied FBI at the time and that's another reason for the fourth estate to keep watch on, you know, on crime fighting and, and whatnot. I think. I think it's truly, truly important for all the reasons I just laid out there. Yeah, no, definitely. And it's definitely not something that is in mainstream conversation regularly, you know, anyway, that history and that perception of it in how much it's held the state back and it's some, it's not something that's often cited when people look at problems in Rhode Island government officials or candidates.
Speaker 3:33:37It's not something I've heard yet is looking at that history and how to avoid that going forward at any level. Crimetown did a good job on that when the buddy CNC race and talking about how, you know, buddy, he, he made a, he was made famous. I guess I'm making air quotes on a podcast, but because he was, here's a guy, an Italian American guy that was, that took on Raymond Patriarchy as a prosecutor and I'm sure that was not the most popular thing in his community, I'm guessing for him to do that, but you know, whatever you think about a CNC, I'm sure that took a lot of courage for him to do that. But then when he gets into office as crimetown highlighted, and it's, they're not the only ones to report it, but they've made it sort of contemporary again. Right. They've brought it back into the fold.
Speaker 3:34:22And, which is why I thought was, was really the storytelling was well done. It was very interesting. You know, the, the mob that he fought with, well he had to then, you know, he was hiring some organized crime figures at the dpw when he first got into office. Uh, and that's the type of impact on I'm talking about when it's like, okay, you gotta keep you gotTa. Keep a close eye and this sort of on the sort of thing. Right? Yeah. I always pictured the Frank Curran envelope reception. He know that, that clip, and that's how many other transactions of that nature happen. There weren't caught on, you know, federal surveillance, you know, we have to remember like, uh, you know, it was one. Oh, the FBI just got that one. Well, they were there for a reason, right. I mean there was probably a long history of, of things going on there, which is why they, they decided to shine a spotlight on it.
Speaker 3:35:17So, final question, your father, uh, is, is essentially Rhode Island Luminary. I'm multi generational reporter. Someone who's, you know, like one of those people I watch also my parents. What's it like for you growing up in that atmosphere and, and what kind of legacy do you carry forth today, you know, with your work look. So Jack White is a household name in Rhode Island. Um, he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1974 for a, a, a story he wrote on Richard Nixon essentially being a tax cheat. And uh, and then president Nixon who was Watergate scandal was swirling, swirling around him. And my dad's story was, people think it was a Watergate story, was not a Watergate story. It was on him under dramatically underpaying his taxes. He was asked about it. President Nixon was asked about, asked about my father's story. And President Nixon, a famous famously said, you know, I want the American people to know I'm not a crook.
Speaker 3:36:20So that's where that phrase, that iconic phrase came from was from Dad's dad's story. Uh, that was the year I was born in Nineteen 74 when dad won the Pulitzer. Um, so I grew up with that and I feel the weight of that every single day when I walk into a Wpr I kennamore boulevard in east providence. Um, you know, I know where I came from, it's not lost on me. And we started this conversation talking about how great it is to report in Rhode Island, you know, a good chunk of the people I talked to. Like, your dad interviewed me back in 1980, you know, whatever. And you always hear great things about dad and my uncle Mike was a long time a detective and central falls who then ran the fugitive task force for the Attorney General's office. He is also since passed away, but you know, these are the people you run into in Rhode Island.
Speaker 3:37:13They remember. They know. Um, so I feel that weight and as a matter of fact, if I'm going to be candid, the reason I went to Boston originally was because when I first started out in news was like, all right, well I don't want to be in Jack White Shadow, um, and I want to try and make my own name up there and whatever. I soon learned that that dad shadow was much wider than I thought. And, and you know, you, you're a reporter for a while and Providence, you might make your way up to Boston. So he was well known up there as well. And the pool, it's a certainly a lot to do with. It doesn't hurt.
Speaker 3:37:48So when he passed away in 2005, I knew the news director at channel 12, a guy named Joe Abbott said he's, he's in Ohio now, but he used to work at my competition in Boston and we would compete against each other, but we were friends and it kind of, you know, you, you try and kick each other's ass and the newscast. But then you'd go out for a beer later, uh, and commiserate. And he called me and he said, hey, why don't you see once you think about coming down here and filling your dad shoes? And I said, there's no effing way I'm going to do that. I don't want to be known as Jack White's son. And, and you know, I feel bad for the poor. Sap was whoever it's going to be, who's going to fill his shoes. So it's like taking over for Brady, you know.
Speaker 3:38:31Exactly. Jimmy Garappolo might be good. I know he's in San Francisco now. Yikes. So a year went by and you know, I thought I don't want to look back and think what if. And Joe kept pestering me and pestering me. And ultimately I decided to, to come down and do it in a lot of it is what we talked about. I knew I was enjoying shaping a newsroom in Boston and in making decisions they are on a day to day basis, but you get into journalism because you want to affect change and not that I wasn't doing that there, but you can do high impact stories that can really make a difference. And I thought I might have a better opportunity in the investigative unit down here. It turns out that was true 12 years later, I can't believe are in the rear view mirror. And it was the best decision, best decision I ever made in as opposed to being scared, uh, and wringing my hands about being like, oh, you're just writing your, your, your dad's coattails or whatever it might be. Yeah. Then I probably got the job because, uh, I was Jack White Son or I am Jack White's son. But, um, I'd like to think I kept it because my own hard work and I'm proud to carry on Dad's legacy as best I can. You know, like I said, I feel that weight every single day, but that weight is a huge motivation. Yeah. And you've definitely done an exceedingly good job of building your own identity and like you say, multimedia identity. That's a, that's the other thing that's dad couldn't tolerate the uh, he'll be on snapchat.
Speaker 3:40:10Insta, what? Yeah. There's no way. There's no way. But Dad was, he was a talented writer. I know, you know, when he was internet sounds so old, but when it started coming on in the news industry had to shift. He was really psyched because he, you write for TV and he was filing is tb stories, but he started doing like a weekly column for Wpn website. I don't know how well read it was, but he just loved doing that style of writing again, you know. So I joked that I think he would've had, he wouldn't have loved it so much. I'm not, I could be wrong about that. I think he, uh, you know, he would have adapted, adapted pretty well. Very well. Jeff. He could do whatever he wanted.
Speaker 3:40:51Hosting a debate this year. Yeah, we're hosting a lot of debates, uh, you know, ted and I prepare very hard for those and for those who are listening and they want to a email in a question, my emails tWhite@Wpi.com, we do want to hear from you. We, you know, the good debates are entertaining, but they're also, um, ones that are of high interest in terms of your, you're covering the topics that people want to know about. So the best way to know about that as to hear from people. So yeah, we're, we're planning those debates now and a lot of different races. Um, and uh, you know, just stay tuned and we'll have some more poll polling coming out with the only TV station that does polling. There was always a lot of fun to sort of test where it's a snapshot in time where things stand and what people are thinking, what their attitudes and moods are.
Speaker 3:41:43So those are going to start to ramp up. We partnered with Roger Williams University this year on that, on the polling and some debates. So you called it silly season. Fasten your seat belts here. We go, here we go, especially as we approach the PRI, we're less than two months away from the primary if you can believe it. Yeah, it's nuts. Even with our late, insanely late primary here in Rhode Island, I know chronically late ms dot except for it's not funny you and the result of the shore general election, so you have like a six week gap and I think it's even shorter this year because of a Jewish holiday. It's only by a few days, but I think they moved it to the primary a little bit later. So it has on a Wednesday. That's when auditing as well. That'll turn some people off somehow. You know, I think you're right.
Speaker 3:42:24And we talked about turnout for the primary. I hadn't thought about it. I wonder what impact that's gonna have, if any right now, but just people are creatures of habit. Right. So Tim, thanks so much. This was really fun. Uh, any, uh, any parting words for the audience out there? Consume News. Yeah, please. My Kid. My kids are counting on, you know, again, we all consume it differently. Uh, and do I prefer you to do it@Wpi.com or channel 12? Absolutely. But I just please be engaged in your community and in some support journalism in that way by, by consuming it and look, we get your feedback. We are front and center all the time and we do stories that people don't like. We get your emails, you know, and, and we try to respond to them so it's more interactive. Again, small market we, we see in the supermarkets, like I said, so be engaged. It do. So
Speaker 1:43:22Tim White. Ladies and gentlemen, thanks so much for your time. Thanks for stopping by the loft. There was a lot of fun. Hey, thanks for listening. Remember, you can follow me on instagram and twitter at Bill Barth and look for my weekly column in Motif magazine. Until next time, we'll talk soon.