SLOAN COLUMN: Remembering Jim Faile: One of the good ones
My friend and co-worker Jim Faile was a man of few words, except when it came to reporting the news.
Jim didn’t talk much. He preferred to measure his words, which is a wise practice by any measure. When he did speak it was often a well thought out question or comment. A smart man, that Jim.
On the other hand, if one were to count the words printed under Jim’s byline over the course of his 40-plus years as a journalist, the number would climb into the hundreds of thousands. An impressive number for sure, but the fact that his writing was always concise - “tight” as we in the newsroom say - makes it even more so. Jim did not write for writing’s sake.
Simply put, Jim was as good a journalist as I have ever known.
News of Jim’s death last Monday left me in tears. As good a journalist as Jim was, and his reporting and the countless awards he received will attest to that, he was an even better man and friend. It was my good fortune to have worked alongside Jim for numerous years as editor of The Hartsville Messenger. I would not say I was Jim’s boss, although I did have the bigger office. We could very easily have traded desks. In fact, he sat in the editor’s chair for a number of years before a heart attack helped him make the decision to be just a reporter.
Upon arriving at “The Messenger.” in 2011, I quickly learned the greatest assets at my disposal were two seasoned journalists, Jim and the newspaper’s other reporter, Ardie Arvidson. The two had worked side-by-side for decades covering nearly every detail of the town’s goings-on. If there was something going on that you needed to know about or you needed to know who to talk to about a certain subject, these were two to ask.
Ardie did much of the feature writing, which left Jim to cover the municipal happenings. If there was a government meeting taking place, Jim knew about it and would be there to report on it. Most journalists, including yours truly, dread covering meetings. More often than not they are long and boring and you wish you had brought a pillow along with your pen and notepad.
Jim took some kind of sadistic pleasure in covering these meetings. Boards, councils or committees, it didn’t matter. If it was a meeting, Jim was most likely there.
By mid-morning the next day his stories would be filed. They would normally be grammatically clean and written in an understandable manner. Only on rare occasion would I have to ask Jim to answer a question on a story he had written. Seriously, he was that good.
And Jim was accurate in his reporting. There may have been a correction posted in the paper on occasion, but that was likely a result of his receiving inaccurate information. I honestly cannot recall a single instance where someone took exception or registered a complaint about Jim’s work.
As decades passed, editors and mayors and civic leaders came and went, but Jim was a constant. He was dependable and trustworthy.
As a journalist and as a friend, Jim was as good as they come.