The Pioneer Press goes big on Denny Hecker

I want to take a break from sodden business realities for a cap tip to the Pioneer Press, which went long on the Denny Hecker story over the weekend.

Not to take anything away from the Strib’s Dee DePass and Rochelle Olson, whose coverage has been definitive. But the Hecker story has so many tentacles that it was time someone put together the saga as one narrative. Nicole Garrison-Sprenger, Jason Hoppin and MaryJo Webster made the explainer a good read, too.

There’s also a nice and necessary interactive touch: Hecker’s incredibly complicated business empire, well worth clicking around on, if only to appreciate the ludicrousness.

Abandon hope, all ye who finance here: The PiPress clickable (though not here) Heckergraph
Abandon hope, all ye who finance here: The PiPress clickable (though not here) Heckergraph

It’s hardly news that despite stable circulation, the PiPress has seemed to shrink size-wise and staff-wise almost as fast as Hecker’s empire expanded. So it’s all the more interesting that this is the second big-deal takeout the paper has attempted in as many months; in September, they published a 22,000-word, 11-stanza recap of the U.S. Senate recount.

I know the staff worked their tails off on that, though I have to confess, I didn’t read much of the recount package. I guess I’d lived it and didn’t want to go back there that soon, in that depth. If I was editor Thom Fladung, I’m not sure would’ve dedicated that much staff to it, given all the daily stories papers used to do and can’t now.

However, perhaps because I’m merely a Hecker observer and don’t know how the juicy saga ends, this PiPress take-out grabbed my attention fully. I hungrily read it top to bottom both days. It does stink that two-parters, which inevitably begin on leisurely Sundays, continue on time-pressed Mondays, one of the lightest-reading days of the week. But that aside, the PiPress greatly clarified where we’ve been so we can see where the story is going.

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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Dean Carlson on 10/26/2009 - 02:03 pm.

    It lacks the local angle…but if you’re into two part newspaper stories about spectacular business blow-ups, check out the Seattle Times’ story about WaMu. Part 1 link below:

  2. Submitted by Annalise Cudahy on 10/26/2009 - 04:15 pm.

    At first, the Hecker piece seemed to be overkill to me. It had that “Celebrities gone bad” smell to it that I thought was something I really didn’t need to know.

    But as I went though it, I realized that Hecker probably isn’t all that unique in the way he played his poker chip companies, so it was worth doing. And it was hard to stop reading work so compelling.

    A few more pieces like this and I’ll have to subscribe just to show my support. It was an excellent contribution to local journalism, IMHO.

  3. Submitted by Jim O'Donnell on 10/26/2009 - 05:59 pm.

    I also thought who needs another Denny Hecker story when I first saw it but I found the two part article fascinating. Kudos to the reporters/writers for a great job.

    Interestingly, Jeffrey Toobin, a staff writer for the New Yorker and author of “The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court,” who was in town Sunday night for the Friends of the St. Paul Library fete, took time out of his speech to comment favorably on the story.

  4. Submitted by Bruce Adomeit on 10/27/2009 - 12:38 am.

    Even though I work for the Enemy Newspaper, I’m a Sunday PP subscriber. On Monday at Cub Foods in White Bear Township I pulled a quarter out of my car’s ashtray to buy the PP just to see how the Hecker saga turned out. Great journalism, great writing.

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