San Diego CityBeat staffer Dave Maass covered Gabrielle Giffords on one of his first assignments as a cub reporter for the Tuscon Weekly. He has a nice column reflecting on his history with her, as well as the shooting that nearly took her life last week.
In my career as a journalist, I have only once broken my rule to never, ever let a politician pick up my lunch tab. The exception was Gabrielle Giffords.
It was 2002, and I was a 22-year-old freelance writer in Phoenix, struggling—and failing—to make a living covering Arizona politics. Giffords was a 31-year-old freshman in the state House of Representatives.
I let my ethics lapse because I couldn’t cover my half of the lunch and because, I thought, what did it matter? I was going to have to bail out of journalism, anyway. Gabby, as she insisted I call her, was genuinely saddened by my pessimism; she fed me a few tips and encouraged me to hang on. I can’t credit her with saving my career, but, as I obsessively refreshed my browser for news of her condition on Saturday, I realized the effect she had on me was profound.