Friday, October 28, 2016

Robert Weller AP Journalism Career

I joined AP in Spokane, Wash., in 1973 after a stint with AP in Helena, Mont., where I had covered the nation's first two skyjackings, including the infamous D.B. Cooper.
The Seattle bureau quickly brought me over. Not to exaggerate, they needed an overnight editor.
After a year or so in Seattle, which included trips to cover the start-up of the trans-Alaska Pipeline, I was transferred to the General Desk in New York.
I learned a considerable amount from the veterans there, and supervised with the assistance of the foreign desk the fall of Saigon.
I went back to Anchorage as bureau chief in 1976, once again covering the pipeline and the panorama of Alaska. That included a Korean Airliner shot down by the Russians during the Cold War and a trip with Eskimos in a whale boat.
The late Foreign Editor Nate Polowetsky needed to expand coverage of apartheid in South Africa and moved me to Johannesburg. That began a 14-year tour of African countries as well as coverage of the assassination of Indira Gandhi.
While in South Africa I covered the civil war in nearby Rhodesia.
It also enabled me to cover wildlife, civil wars and coups,  the environment, Bushmen, entertainment and much more across the continent.
I was transferred to Nairobi in East Africa and Abidjan in West Africa.
AIDS was a story that was getting more and more coverage. It took African nations longer to recognize its danger than the developed world.
At one I was sent a primate center in Gabon studying the disease. Due to a mistake by a gorilla handler, a 400-pound lowland gorilla was released right in front of me and knocked me down. There were no serious injuries.
I met many leaders, including Moammar Gadaffi, and later covered the sabotage of a French airliner by one of his agents in the Sahara Desert. I chartered a plane with other reports to see the wreckage of the DC-10 and bodies of 170 victims.
In 1993, I was transferred to then-Grand Junction bureau covering western Colorado and four years later to Denver, where I worked until 2008.
There was a wide variety of stories to cover, including skiing, tourism and characters like John Denver and Hunter S. Thompson. The fear that the turn of the century created a fear that nuclear weapons might be launched by accident. All the superpowers made sure Y2K passed without notice. I also covered rapes at the Air Force Academy, wildfires, JonBenet Ramsey and the Columbine Massacre. I followed the latter for a decade and was close to survivors and families of victims.
Anyone with an interest in these stories and other stories can look at my website,

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