Open Mike11/24/2006 07:00:00 PM Eastern
The loss of John M. Higgins inspired hundreds of letters.
You'll find the complete version of tributes on our Web site,
broadcastingcable.com. Below are excerpts from just a few:
We flunked out of Notre Dame together in the early '80s when the time we
divided between the student newspaper and classes favored the paper by a factor
of about 10.
In 1991 we were at a reunion of the school paper, and during a formal
affair, the power went off. Time went by, and we mentioned to the current
students running the paper that it seemed like a good story (big football
weekend, lengthy blackout, lots of chaos, etc.), and they looked at us like we
were crazy. So I said to John, "Why don't you do the story for them?" He
disappeared into the dark and—at most 10 minutes later— reappeared with the
reason for the blackout (substation explosion), an underlying cause (recent
budget cuts had gutted inspections) and an angle worth pursuing (reduced
inspections may have violated state law).
Ryan Ver Berkmoes
Author, Portland, Ore.
During our years together at B&C, John was our
journalistic conscience. We never had to refer to any corporate or other
outside policy about what was right or wrong, about the ethics of the matter.
We just had to ask John. His standards were always higher than anybody else's.
If we could meet them, we were on safe ground.
John was a man of strong opinions. He knew what he liked and didn't like
and would let you know. But he loved life, and I don't think he hated anything,
except, as all his editors came to know, a deadline.
Harry A. Jessell
Former Editor in Chief
I recall a week-long hospital stay I had at the NYU Medical Center—a
cozy 10-minute walk from the B&C offices and a
25-minute walk to the nearest train back to his home in Hoboken—when John
showed the kind of heart he had. My first day there, he stopped by and brought
along a large fruit smoothie, the kind of treat that can make the difference
between a good and bad day in a hospital.
He must have noticed my elation. Every day for the next five, John did
the same thing. And it was early December, not May. Each night, he showed up
like clockwork at 7:30 p.m., smoothie in hand, to check on me. It was an act of
kindness that no doubt resulted in his copy being a little extra late that
Former Technology Reporter
John Higgins was the most intrepid reporter to cover the media beat in
the last quarter-century. He was an original and a consummate friend. He
inspired all of us. I will miss him. God bless you, John.
One time, IAC Chairman Barry Diller was giving his quarterly exhortation
in one of the earnings call. Diller was being his usual irascible self,
prefacing every answer with his usual, "Well, that's an ignorant question."
Then Higgins asks a pointed question about a possible acquisition, to which
Diller responds, "Regulation FD rules prevent me from discussing that." Higgins
shoots back, "Actually, under Reg FD, this is exactly the
kind of forum in which you could answer that question." It was one of the few
times I've heard Diller flustered.
But my way to Higgins' heart would always be through music. He joined me
to see the Mekons at Maxwell's in Hoboken about 10 years ago.
There we were, two overweight guys bouncing up and down to punk rock
without the slightest trace of irony. When the show was over, he looked over at
me and said, "Better than Cats."
We often measured the success of the CTAM Summit in part on whether
Higgins would admit he got some news while he was there. It became a metric in
our planning: "Will this speaker stand up to the Higgins test?"
John Higgins was the best financial analyst not on Wall Street.
The skills of being a financial reporter and being a financial analyst
are interchangeable. It just depends on who you work for and whether you're
governed by securities regulations or the First Amendment.
Like the best reporters or analysts, Higgins built his network well.
John was the network; a focal point for ideas, for trades
of information and reports, and for spying on the competition. He was, in one
human force, what Berlin was to the Cold War, or Hong Kong was to the spies of
Asia. Those at the Times or the
Journal who didn't hire him because of his rough sartorial
habits and similarly rough personality never knew what they missed.
He was quick to judge. Those who burned him once never recovered. But,
once judged positively, he was long on friendship, so long as you didn't expect
that good friendship was a trade for good journalism.
Those who know how the media information engine room works, will also
know that the impact of this loss will go far wider than this magazine. It is
the loss of a man at the center … a man whose tendrils wrapped themselves
around and through the entire industry.
John Higgins was the Information Superhighway.
Higgins knew how to develop sources and, in our case at Lifetime,
certainly among women. I don't think there are many reporters who supply their
contacts with Prada sample-sales alerts as John did regularly.
John was a true original. At his wedding, when taking his vows, he
boomed "I, Higgins, take thee, Debbie…." The wedding program announced that,
despite his vows, "Higgins will be keeping his name."
We will all keep his memory in our hearts. We were lucky and blessed to
know him, and our love goes out to his family and especially Debbie.
Executive VP, Public Affairs,