The Crusader Newspaper Group

A major changing of the guard in Indianapolis television news reporting

Let some psychopath take out four or five innocent diners at a family restaurant or their place of employment and it gets everyone’s attention. The news leads with the most gruesome stories for a reason – it consistently commands the attention of the viewing audience.

So whenever the broadcast lead story or print headlines begin with some heinous crime, catastrophic act of nature, shameful political behaviors, cataclysmic social development, freak accident, or celebrity scandal – you have everyone’s attention. 

Good stories about good people get bumped. Sometimes you have to make an exception.

You know how we always say let folk have their roses while they can still smell them. Well, that’s what I’ve decided to do with this week’s column. For most in Chicago and Gary, your familiarity with the subject may be limited. The name Steve Jefferson may or may not ring a bell.

My column is called “Circle City Connection.” The whole intent is to mingle stories, concerns, issues, causes, events and personalities for which we may be geographically separated but sharing in spirit. This brother is definitely worthy of connecting to your sphere of acquaintance.

For the past 19 years, Steve Jefferson has been an Emmy Award-winning reporter with WTHR Channel 13 television news in Indianapolis. A crime reporter since 2002, the savvy journalist who also presides over the Indianapolis Association of Black Journalists is headed to WFAA in Dallas.

Like most off-the-chain professionals in virtually every field, Jefferson – who proudly claims the nickname “Scoop” – wasn’t looking for a new job. Opportunity came looking for him. In a media position he cherishes, Jefferson will miss his work as much as the community will miss him.

It’s impossible to talk about all the huge breaking news this brother has covered in two decades of reporting, but a few stand out as we look for his “greatest hits.” 

He broke the news about the FBI raid of former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle at his Zionsville home. Jefferson staked out the home until agents arrived, arresting Fogle who was subsequently convicted of receiving child pornography and having sex with minors.

In another startling case, when Desmond Turner was wanted for the murder of seven – including three children – the police manhunt ended when the suspect reached out to Jefferson confessing and saying he wanted to turn himself in. The two met at an east side fast food restaurant where police were alerted and took the fugitive into custody.

A third example of his stellar professionalism and passion came in the wrongful arrest of Keith Wilson, charged with attempted murder in a case that turned out to be mistaken identity. Jefferson discovered that the actual shooter not only resembled Wilson but had the same name. After his diligent journalistic effort, police were able to find the rightful suspect.

“As a journalist, that was the epitome of justice,” Steve would later remark. “If you can fight for justice … that’s our calling.”

His accomplishments as a journalist would be enough to earn plaudits for a well lived life. But there’s more. Much, much, more. His deep community involvement is even more impressive. 

He has been intimately involved with the Indiana Black Expo, Indianapolis Central Library, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Indianapolis Alumni Chapter, 100 Black Men of Indianapolis, Crime Stoppers of Central Indiana and his beloved Grace Apostolic Church.

In the Metropolitan Indianapolis area, his fingerprints are all over too many good works to mention. He mentors fledgling Black journalists, participates directly in community scholarship and tutorial efforts, serves as a role model for young men whose paths he crosses and gets involved in every civic or community endeavor his demanding schedule allows.

Indianapolis is not just losing a passionate and highly-competent journalist, it is losing a citizen the likes of which come far and few between.

So there it is. Finally, a toss of the proverbial bouquet while a brother is still standing there to catch it. In full disclosure, this is also personal. I have relished my close friendship, intense professional interactions and fraternal brotherhood with Steve “Scoop” Jefferson since he arrived in the Circle City.

This is a change the man wants and has earned. Yep, Indy. There will undoubtedly be a void. But one of those young people Steve has poured so much into over the years will just have to step up and fill it. In the meantime, Dallas, listen up cowpokes – there’s a new sheriff in town!

We applaud Steve “Scoop” Jefferson for an incredibly well done job in this chapter of his brilliant career and service-dedicated life, knowing full well that eyes have not seen, nor have ears heard, what the Lord still yet has in store for His good and faithful servant!

CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected].

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