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Column: Thanks, Dave Reynolds

Former Scout sports editor Ronan Khalsa (left), current Scout sports editor Larry Larson (middle left), former Peoria Journal Star sports editor Kirk Wessler (middle right) and former Peoria Journal Star Bradley basketball beat reporter Dave Reynolds (right) sit on press row at the MVC men’s basketball tournament in March 2020.

On Nov. 28, longtime Peoria Journal Star reporter and Bradley men’s basketball beat writer Dave Reynolds announced that his career at the paper was coming to a close. He didn’t use the word “retiring” in his farewell column, but rather said he’s accepting an offer for an “employee buyout.” 

It’s a sign of the times, as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the already floundering print journalism industry. Buyouts, layoffs and furloughs are commonplace in this day and age, but this news came as a shock to me. 

It hadn’t really crossed my mind that somebody who had covered 30 years of Bradley hoops wasn’t invincible to the cuts that have become somewhat inevitable. 

When I became a student on the Hilltop in fall 2018 and started following the Braves, I quickly learned Dave was the go-to guy for coverage of the team. If you wanted to know something relating to Bradley men’s basketball, whether it be injury news or simple game coverage, you closely followed Dave’s Twitter and read his articles. 

When I took over the men’s basketball beat for The Scout at the start of last season, I worked alongside Dave at nearly every game at Carver Arena. For a handful of games, we were the only reporters in postgame press conferences. 

In a lot of ways, covering Bradley basketball is like a Beat Reporting 101 course. I’ve learned a lot about how to cover a team on a game-to-game basis in a professional setting, and I can attribute a lot of that to Dave. 

It would be wrong to say that Dave served as a professor of sorts, but rather, his presence on press row was part of the curriculum.

I got to know him a little bit and took note of how he went about his work. By doing so, I discovered what a lot of people in and outside of Peoria already knew: Dave is a consummate professional who is good at what he does. 

It was clear to me that he enjoyed his job as a writer, but it was also very clear to me that he was there to get a job done – tell the story of the game and tell it well. 

Reynolds is a low-key guy; he was not flashy in how he did his job. Most importantly, he never injected himself into the story (except, of course, the one time he WAS the story – a painful few days for all involved). 

This is something that young journalists such as myself can learn from. In the age of social media, it’s easy to fall into the trap of chasing clout and trying to come up with the “hottest take.” It seems as if a lot of people are in it for the attention. That is not true journalism. 

In my eyes, Dave conducted his job how any good journalist should. He was as knowledgeable about his beat as anybody. He was at every media availability and every game. He asked good questions as well as tough ones. He reported factually sound and detailed stories. 

Even after the aforementioned incident in March 2019, he remained professional and didn’t hold a grudge, which is hard to do. From what I saw in the season following and what I continue to see now, all parties have grown and gotten better as a result. That doesn’t always happen. 

It is abundantly clear that Dave’s professionalism and career have left an impact in Peoria and around the Valley. 

When he tweeted the news, well wishes poured in from every corner of the basketball and journalism world – from well-known Chicago journalists to beat reporters and fellow student writers in the MVC. 

However, one of the best examples of the respect Dave has garnered through the years came well before the seasoned veteran stepped away. 

Prior to tip-off of Bradley’s senior day matchup with Loyola-Chicago last season, Ramblers head coach Porter Moser walked over to press row to greet Dave with a bright smile and a handshake, as if he were reuniting with a friend. 

It’s not just anybody that gets that kind of greeting from a visiting head coach in the waning moments before an intense road game. It’s one thing to be greeted like that following a press conference, but before a game? That’s not something you see often. 

Following a postgame press conference last season, Dave and I were the only ones left in Carver Arena’s media workroom, and I asked him a question or two about how he writes his game stories. 

He expressed to me that his goal is to simply “take the reader where they can’t go.” 

As somebody who has seen it from both the fan’s perspective and the journalist’s perspective, I can say that Dave Reynolds has done a pretty darn good job at that. Peorians and Bradley basketball fans have been lucky to have him in town for 38 years. 

Dave: Congratulations on a job well done and thanks for setting a great example for The Scout’s sports writers and other student journalists, past and present.

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