How do you do aggressive, honest reporting? Ned Whelan, who died Wednesday, days after an accidental fall, showed exactly how. He died in Phoenix, visiting his daughter. He was 70.
As a Plain Dealer reporter in 1970, Whelan covered a meeting of the Bluecoats, an organization of the top corporate executives in town. The Bluecoats support police killed on duty with financial help for family and children.
The situation was an introduction by top corporate Cleveland elite, Fred Coolidge Crawford. He was then board chairman emeritus of TRW, Inc., a major American corporation based here and on the boards of other major corporations.
In his talk Crawford uttered two racist "jokes." Whelan was covering the meeting for the Plain Dealer. He had the courage to write into his article the essence of this elite's attempt at humor. Of course, the material never made it to the newspaper the next day. Ned's honesty was killed. Left on the cutting floor by editors.
I wrote at the time that "Such incidents usually die with self-censorship by reporters," not so with Whelan. He wrote it.
Someone, maybe even Whelan, as I remember it, sent me the actual edited copy. The material missing in the PD appeared only in my newsletter Point of View in November 23 1970.
Whelan wrote: "Crawford told two racial jokes to the all-white audience.