Gregory Katz has covered some big stories in his long reporting career.
During the chaos following John Lennon’s murder, the 1971 Staples High School graduate was the only journalist inside the Dakota building. Katz’s interview with the first person on the scene ran in Rolling Stone. It became the definitive account of that night.
Katz earned a share of the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting. His Dallas Morning News team produced a 14-part series on violence against women throughout the world.
For many years, Katz covered Latin America and the Mideast. Now — ranging all over Europe, as AP bureau chief in London — he’s written about popes, politics, refugees and Queen Elizabeth.
Katz — who owns a summer home on Saugatuck Shores — has been insanely busy recently. But he took time out from his all-Brexit, all-the-time coverage to speak with “06880” about the back story behind that huge story.
Brexit has been AP’s main focus for the last 3 months. Katz and his staff made a huge story list. They brought in extra reporters from France and Germany, and TV producers from across Europe.
That enabled them to provide 24-hour coverage on the big night, with feature reporting from England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
It’s a very hard story to explain. There are many question marks, including how the actual separation from the European Union could — and now, will — work.
Katz traveled to Dover for one report. The White Cliffs and water are beautiful, but he also sensed the residents’ tremendous anger toward immigrants. He’d heard similar sentiments earlier, but found them more widespread now.
The native Westporter spent much of his career in remote places, covering chaotic events. Brexit, he says, was “more of a slow-motion, extended political and business story. It was much more controlled than the sort of reporting I used to do.”
There was very little drama, Katz says, until near the end. “Then it just exploded on the the world’s consciousness. You could see it coming because the financial markets are so sensitive.”
It was clear, Katz said, that the vote would be close. But most people thought the “remain” side would win, so the outcome was stunning.
Because of the result, it’s a story he’ll cover for the next few years. For example: What’s the process for taking Britain out of the EU? Will there be major job losses in London and other cities? What will be the status of people from other European nations, who are now working or studying in the UK legally? Of course, there will soon be a new prime minister too.
“It’s a confusing time for a lot of people,” Katz notes. “And it won’t be resolved quickly. The whole AP staff here will be working on various aspects of the story.”
Usually around this time, Katz says, people are quite excited about Wimbledon.
“But no one’s even noticed this year.”