Alethea Porter had APA style,
seeing everything from every angle
& always keeping herself above the fold.
A columnist who kept her books in neat rows,
she fought astroturfing,
& yellow journalism.
She lived in an inverted pyramid
with a snazzy layout wallpapered in newsprint
in the Fixer-Upper Northwest Side of Chicago.
one punchline at a time,
she climbed the ladder of the urban jungle gym,
respecting those well-seasoned story scoopers on the back bench
& mentoring the eager cubs who followed her lede.
She didn’t do puff pieces or hit pieces,
but covered first-day hard news & seventh-day soft news;
she was an informant of the best kind.
Whether in Athens, Georgia,
or Bethlehem, Pennsylvania,
she was a not-so-private investigative reporter,
her nondescript cover a trench coat & hat,
a la Carmen Sandiego.
She broke with the breaking news,
sometimes breaking down,
never forgetting that her subjects were real people
whose unfortunate series of life events provided the material
she mined to make her career—
that they weren’t just characters in a story,
but they were the story.