Wayne Barrett: One of New York’s Best Investigative Journalists

The New York Times profile on Wayne Barrett gave me the perception that Barrett is a serious journalist who means business.

His dedication to the journalistic work he does is astounding. It’s almost as if he never takes a break. It’s apparent that he lives and breathes journalism and it’s also inspiring to see someone be that passionate about his or her work. Some people don’t let their work interfere with their personal life, but Barrett is different. The line between Barrett’s work life and his personal life is practically invisible, which, in my opinion, is a good thing and a bad thing.

I consider myself dedicated to all the work that I do, but I still need time away from writing articles, researching, and interviewing people. I still need some time to actually live. For Barrett, hounding New York City’s chief executives for over three decades is his version of living.

I never heard of Wayne Barrett before reading the Times’ profile on him, but after reading an excerpt from his book, Rudy: An Investigative Biography, and his Village Voice article on Governor Andrew Cuomo, it only solidified everything I read him about him in the Times piece. Just from reading his investigative pieces, one can tell why he has come to be known as one of New York’s best political journalists. You can also tell that this man spends a lot of time digging deep through the archives in order to find out the very explicit information he presents in his writing.

Barrett reminds me of a modern-day muckraker who gets his kick from 20th century investigative journalists like Lincoln Steffens, Ida Tarbell, and Upton Sinclair. It comforts me to know that there are journalists out there like Barrett who care about common citizen and who make it his business to weed out political corruption in New York City. The work that Barrett does is certainly not easy and I can see why it consumes most of his life. He has totally immersed himself in the political lives of New York City figures such as, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Rudy Giuliani, and Edward Koch.

Properly executing investigative work on chief politicians takes a lot of research, time, and patience. The work Barrett did on Giuliani in his book really impressed me. He depicted Giuliani as a mayor who falsifies statistics, who fails to address key issues, and who gives in to political cronies, all while maintaining the illusion of pure honesty. Barrett facts backing all this up are so precise and so clearly well written. You can tell that he was knee-deep in files and archives in order to gather all of the information that he presented in his book.

On a more personal note, Barrett seems like a type of guy who will never give up on his work. According to the Times profile on him, he didn’t even seem that discouraged when got let go from the Village Voice because he knew that he had plenty of ideas and he was confident that they would strike other publications – and they have.

I don’t find it coincidental that at an earlier age Barrett desired to become a priest. The life of a priest and the life that Barrett has been living for the past 37 years take extreme dedication, drive, and patience. Even though Barrett appears to be a pretty stubborn guy who only likes things done is way; I’ve come to admire him and his strong work ethic.

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