Last Thursday, the news came that former Fresno Bee reporter George Hostetter died of prostate cancer at age 70.
If you read this blog, you’re most likely familiar with his work, particularly his “city beat” reporting of downtown Fresno news. For years, when Mr. Hostetter needed to go to City Hall, he would get there by taking a long walk around downtown from the Bee offices on E street. It doesn’t matter what the weather was, he would walk, making notes about any development (or lack of development) along the way. He would also talk to all sorts of people to get their perspective.
He’d report his finding in a unique style, which I never quite knew if it was all his own or part of the McClatchy style guide. He’d tell a long and compelling story using a series of short sentences. He’d weave in relative information to make sure everybody reading the article was on the same page. He was given ample room on the printed page. A typical article looked like this:
I never met George in person, but I loved reading his reports in the Bee, and his reporting was a critical inspiration for this blog. In particular, my downtown photo updates were directly inspired by his walks and reports.
Unfortunately, when he retired from the Bee, his City Beat was never replaced. While one could blame the ever-shrinking budget of the Bee, the truth is that George was unique. You won’t find that kind of reporting in well-funding periodicals, like the Washington Post or the New York Times, either.
Simply put, the passion George had for both the news and for Fresno was singular and irreplaceable, and there’s no substituting for decades of first-hand reporting on the same subject.
His passing is a loss for both Fresno and for journalism, and he will be missed.