Seth Borenstein, a filing-demon and Associated Press stalwart, tips us off the one of the other, highly prolific and devoted science reporters at AP is retiring tomorrow. He offered to write a short tribute. Offer accepted.
One of the unsung heroes of science writing is retiring Thursday after 43 years. The byline says Randolph E. Schmid, AP Science Writer. It sounds daunting, but it’s not the person. He’s really just Randy to those of us who know him, from his colleagues to his competitors to his wide array of sources. Randy doesn’t call attention to himself, but his stories are strong, clean and usually first. He just wrote fast and well and went on to the next story. A hallmark of a Schmid story is the light touch, brevity, a pun if possible, and above all speed. A public relations official at the Smithsonian said his competitors used to complain that he must have gotten tipped off about stories or press conferences. He didn’t.
As a former competitor turned colleague, I can tell you Randy Schmid is tough to beat. It’s not just his speed, but his versatility. A trained meteorologist, he also writes about everything from Neandertals (don’t you dare put the “h” in there or Randy will correct you) to birdsongs to the post office. And there’s the Randy Schmid whose humor and intelligence lights up an office and is quick to spark a debate about science, history or rock music. Randy’s desk sports a collection of science humor bumper stickers and his computer shares email humor at a rate that matches his productivity. Many of the most interesting, fun and important science stories people have read in the last generation were from Randy Schmid, even if that formal-sounding byline wasn’t attached.
- Seth Borenstein
Schmid first appeared at the Tracker on April 7, 2006. That was the first week of operation for this site. Since then, at rough count, about 200 more appearances. See ya around, Randy. - Charlie Petit
*UPDATE: Schmid's last story on AP's payroll. About birds. Not a swan song but close.
- AP: Randolph E. Schmid: Warbling wrens don't just tweet, they sing duets ; A wonderful little yarn, but I do have to ask an itch, a question, that randomly bubbles up. No big reason Schmid should have asked about this. But seems sometimes that when one reads about songbirds in the US,almost every one is a migrant that spends part of each year in Central and South America. Ergo, they have two geographic places where changing events may endanger their species. So, why is this little wren a stay-at-home? Others of course today wrote up this news, as it is in Science - separately tracked.