This was true even in the 1980's as one of the fellows with whom I shared my Episcopal Church-owned apartment worked for the New York Times and was never, ever in the office. The closest I think he ever came was the Blarney Stone across the street. A couple of years ago I had the occasion to enter the newsroom of The Hartford Courant, in great anticipation of once again experiencing the frenetic electricity of reporters at work. Instead, it was a cubicle zoo, with reporters sitting, sitting!, at their desks in front of quiet laptop screens performing their research through Internet search engines, quietly speaking to people via a thing in their ears [Bluetooth?] and drinking from Starbucks cups. I was all at sea.
Now, while I've always had respect for reporters, the opposite is generally true of journalists. Reporters get the story; journalists massage it. In fact, many times these days, as most of those in the media would describe themselves as journalists rather than reporters, it seems that they're merely extensions of the public relations departments of political parties or corporations. Stories are not necessarily the truth, but rather the journalist's point of view; a not-so-subtle change from the grand days or reporting
Even those who describe themselves as "participatory journalists" such as Hunter Thompson, George Plimpton, Gay Talese, Norman Mailer, Robert Cristgau, and Joan Didion need to be regarded with a grain of salt. Having lived next door to a "new journalist" has made me even more suspect when I read their works. My neighbor crows in print about his sports car collection, but they rarely leave his garage and then only to travel about a third of a mile to the local market, generally at the speed of a riding mower. I imagine similar postures exist with the other members of his writing fraternity.
That is, except for this week's personality, as she not only and without question participated in the stories that she wrote, but did so honestly and in full public view. In addition, she was able to report the story without artificially inserting herself into the narrative. That's quite a feat.
Perhaps this was because Denise McCluggage was truly interested in sports, especially that of auto racing, and not as a means for self-glory. Born in 1927, and having wanted to be a reporter since childhood, McCluggage was covering a yacht race when she met the American godfather of sports cars and racing, Briggs Cunningham, who convinced her that the only truly exciting sport was auto racing. She agreed so whole-heartedly that not only did she become the first woman reporter to cover auto racing, but one of the first women to compete.
What made her participation sublime was that, in the days when drivers wore distinctive helmets so that the fans could identify them as they whizzed by the stands, her's was white with pink polka-dots. You'd never catch Phil Hill or Dan Gurney in anything resembling a chapeau.
Since McCluggage had gotten her first driver's license in Kansas at the age of 14, she was already familiar with passenger cars. Her first competitive sports car was not a large, heavy piece of Detroit steel, naturally, but a 1950 MG TC with which she began her racing life in small races and small tracks.