A sure sign of a good reporter is that people from both sides of a story are eager to talk to him.
That was Bill Braun, the Tulsa World’s longtime recorder of all things courts.
Prosecutors liked Bill. Defense attorneys liked Bill. Court clerks, judges and bailiffs liked Bill.
Part of it was because he is a swell guy. The other reason was that he was a rock-solid, by-the-book reporter.
Bill wasn’t into frills. He wasn’t in it for the glory. He was in it for the story.
Braun shot straighter than a sniper, and his copy was as tight as Scarlett O’Hara’s corset.
I didn’t know Bill from a manhole cover back in 1987, my first year in Tulsa.
But because we worked in the same building for rival newspapers – he was employed by the World and I by the Tulsa Tribune — I would always run into him in the elevator or on the street.
He walked with a purpose and carried under his arm manila folders as thick as kindergarten boys. Back and forth from the newspaper to the courthouse he went.
Day after day. Week after week. Year after year.
Who was this dude and how did he do it?
Years later when I joined the World, I found out. Braun simply outworked the competition.
When others were keeping banker’s hours, Bill was pulling graveyard shifts.
But it was all in the name of team.
To put it in the parlance of sports, which Bill loves, Braun a was pass-first, shoot-second guy, a playmaker who was all too glad to dish out the assist if it made for a winning outcome.
He shared sources, phone numbers, knowledge, experiences.
A few years back while mowing my yard on a summer weekday, I received a phone call at about 7:30 at night.
It was Bill Braun, wondering if I knew about a court filing on my beat. I jumped off the John Deere, wrote a story and again, thanks to Bill, the Tulsa World finished first.
Over his 34 years at the World, Bill watched out for hundreds of reporters, making sure they had to tools and information to do the job.
This evening, we are going to watch out for him, making sure he has the proper sendoff for his retirement.
Let’s raise a glass to Bill Braun. There will never be another like him.