Media

The Thompsons Leave for D.C.: A Dark Day for Dallas Journalism

Pour one out.

D Magazine readers know Jamie Thompson’s byline. For the last six years or so, she has written for the magazine as a freelancer. A few highlights: the death of Kidd Kraddick (the first big story that she and I worked on together), the Susan Hawk saga, the unethical judge (who, as a result of Jamie’s story, had to step down from the bench). She did a bunch of smaller pieces for us, too, the sort of work every full-time freelancer has to take on to pay the bills.

What most readers don’t know is that Jamie is married to Steve Thompson, an investigative reporter for the Dallas Morning News. The couple moved to Dallas in 2007, when Steve took a job at the paper. It was his health insurance, really, that kept Jamie in freelancing shape. Not just for D Magazine. This Texas Monthly story about the Wimberley flood was, to my mind, the best magazine story written in 2015 (though it appeared online only, which is a mystery that confounds me still). 

Well, actually, Steve was an investigative reporter for the News. His last day at the paper was March 1. He left to take a job at the Washington Post, where he will be a general assignment reporter covering local government. It’s a brilliant hire. Not only does the Post get Steve but, as management there surely knows, the Post gets a great new steady freelancer in Jamie. She has written for that paper before. Just as she has written for the News (most recently with this monster of a story about the SWAT standoff in downtown).

Bottom line is this: Dallas is left a poorer city for the Thompsons’ departure. Socially, for sure. They are two of the most cordial, delightful people you could hope to meet. But, more important, when it comes to journalism about the city and the people who live here, two of the best storytellers seated at the campfire just got up and left the circle.

Mike Wilson is the editor of the News and Steve’s former boss. I told Jamie that I blame Wilson for letting her husband take a job at the Post, just like he allowed Avi Selk to leave for the Post. Jamie is wiser and kinder than I. She set my head right. The Post is every newspaperperson’s goal (or the Times). Wilson can’t be blamed for two people taking their dream jobs.

But right now I’m not in the mood for wisdom and equanimity. I feel nothing but white-hot rage and the lust for blood. Dear Curious Texas, why did Mike Wilson let this happen?

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