A fond farewell for a 50-year journalist -- and his unique archiving system

Veteran financial journalist David Francis, whose "Economic Scene" column first appeared in the Monitor in 1964, ends his reporting run.

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    David Francis retires, and does some recycling.
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For half of the time the Monitor has existed, David Francis has written for it. He has authored 5,300 bylined articles, won several business-writing awards, and as near as we can tell, his “Economic Scene” column, which first appeared in 1964 and ended last week, is the oldest continuous business column in American journalism.

“I love journalism,” David says. “Look at all the fun – talking to important people, chasing stories, going places, snooping into things, writing it up, informing readers. I really have enjoyed it.”

Three of the 10 Monitor editors he has worked for, including this one, first worked for him when he ran the business news department – which probably explains his unfailingly tough questions during staff meetings.

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Like any reporter, David has his share of amusing stories. Here’s a good one: In the mid-1980s, he was attending a bankers’ conference in Vancouver, British Columbia. For entertainment at dinner one night, the Canadian hosts released live ducks in the banquet hall while actors dressed like hunters blasted away with shotguns loaded with blanks. It was local-color fun for the bankers and their spouses until the discombobulated ducks began crash-landing into soup bowls.

Around the newsroom, David has been legendary not just for his productivity but for his filing system: huge piles of paper on and around his desk, stacks so high that the pieces on the bottom seemed only a step away from becoming compost. It takes mental acuity to manage a geological filing system. If you asked him for a particular report on, say, the difference between M1 and M2 in the money supply, he would confidently slide his hand into a pile and retrieve just the thing.


The paper towers have been loaded into recycling bins over the past few days. David is ending his reporting run. So here’s a salute to a pioneer business journalist, a tireless reporter, and generous and genial colleague. Thanks for 50 years of tough questions.

John Yemma is the editor of The Christian Science Monitor.

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