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Farewell to a trusted local news reporter

August 11, 2017
Editorial , Lake Placid News

Chris Knight has been Saranac Lake's premier news reporter for 16 years: almost eight years at WNBZ radio and then eight more at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, also contributing to the Lake Placid News and North Country Public Radio during that time period. Now he's leaving the news business to become the North Country Community College communications director.

We've seen countless reporters leave to do public relations for government entities, nonprofit corporations and corporations. The trend was established long before we got into this business. PR jobs pay better and have more regular hours.

It shouldn't be that way. Journalists serve the general public interest, whereas PR professionals serve narrow interests. Ideally, the pipeline would go the other way: News writers would start their careers writing press releases and asking professional reporters to cover their employers' doings, yet aspire to be those reporters who inform the public on a broad scale and balance a wide variety of viewpoints.

Article Photos

Chris Knight

Economic reality is what it is, so please forgive us for griping. We're just sad to lose Chris.

He started with WNBZ at the beginning of September 2011, just before all hell broke loose on a certain Tuesday morning. Even through the 9/11 terrorist attacks took place in New York City, Washington and Pennsylvania, they were a local story that consumed us all for weeks.

Around that time, Enterprise Managing Editor (then reporter) Peter Crowley met Chris for the first time at a Saranac Lake village board meeting. When Chris said he was from WNBZ, Peter said something like, "What are you doing here?" Before then, the station's morning news report consisted of reading newspaper articles on the air. For it to send a reporter out of the office to do original reporting was mind-boggling.

It didn't take long for Chris to start scooping the local newspapers here and there, even though the Enterprise had three Tri-Lakes reporters and he was on his own.

Finally in summer 2009, Chris was ready to jump, and he landed at the Enterprise. That was a tough year for newspapers and the economy as a whole, yet while other papers were slashing the size of their newsrooms, we strengthened our reporting power by bringing aboard a veteran who had long ago earned the trust of the community.

He expanded his horizons at the Enterprise. At the radio station he was known for cranking out four or five short stories a day, but the newspaper nudged him toward more depth and breadth. His news stories became more thorough and authoritative, and he wrote feature stories that will live forever in our memories: on a local firefighter finally talking to the 4-year-old girl who jumped into his arms from a burning hotel in 1964, on local hermit "Hawkeye" Hawkinson's magnificent antique cars, and on the fire chief's bad ventriloquist act spawning a cross-country voyage for his puppet.

Chris got to dig into some investigative reporting, too, such as a 10-part series on NCCC, exposing a deep breakdown between administration, faculty and staff. The fact that the same administration hired him after that shows his series may have engendered much healing - or else, we joke among ourselves, they just wanted to shut him up.

We wish Chris well, but we sure will miss his fair and accurate reporting in the newsroom.



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