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Hiltzik: James Flanigan, business columnist, dies at 85

James Flanigan, whose two times-weekly column was a mainstay of business coverage at The Moments for some two a long time, died Aug. 19 just after a transient illness. He was 85.

From the mid-1960s — when he was lured west from a significant-stage editing occupation at Forbes to strengthen The Times’ business and money coverage — till 2005, Flanigan guided Situations visitors by means of a interval of dizzying variations in enterprise, sector booms and crashes, bubbles and bursts, scandals and triumphs.

“He became an instantaneous star in Los Angeles for each his investigative reporting and his impressive crafting,” recalled Paul E. Steiger, the former Situations business editor who recruited Flanigan and later on served as controlling editor of the Wall Road Journal and, right until 2020, govt chairman of ProPublica, the nonprofit investigative journalism firm, which he aided observed in 2008.

Steiger termed Flanigan “an remarkable talent. His was one of the greatest combinations of reporting perception, human empathy, and composing flair that I at any time encountered in business and economic journalism.”

Audience understood to assume in a Flanigan column percipience and foresight, expressed in sleek, unaffected prose. His colleagues at The Situations try to remember him for his generosity of spirit, old-school colleagueship and his optimistic outlook on everyday living — and for supplying cookies to the company news team every Thursday, invariably accompanied by a stanza or two of encouraged topical verse.

As early as 1983, Flanigan warned that the gap between rich and lousy in The united states was widening. The ethos of “Neiman Marcus for the privileged, K-Mart for the relaxation,” he wrote then, was “reversing an egalitarian development of 50 percent a century.” He identified as for a redoubled investment decision in instruction “to retain us a culture with prospect for all.”

That same year, pondering Pope John Paul II’s protection of the Solidarity trade union throughout a visit to his Polish homeland, Flanigan reminded his audience that “the striving for dignity in the American operate power is in our oldest tradition — way again further than the rise of labor unionism in the late 19th Century, to the pretty beginnings of our marketplace in New England.”

A recurrent concept in Flanigan’s get the job done was the rewards of immigration. On July 3, 2005, in his closing Sunday column for The Occasions, he positioned that in a particular context.

“Eighty several years in the past James Flanigan, my father, immigrated to New York from County Clare,” Ireland, he wrote. “He was 21 yrs aged with just 7 yrs of education. He found do the job loading vehicles in a warehouse. In 1927, Jane Whyte arrived from the exact same very little town of Lahinch. She was 23 with six several years of instruction. She went to function — as most of the Irish women of that day did — in stay-in domestic assistance.”

In the 1930s, he recounted, his father grew to become one particular of the founders of New York’s Grocery Warehouseman’s Union (later to come to be component of the Teamsters), but continued to function evenings in warehouses all his existence, developing an America that “gave me a terrific training and the chance to be a fellow who could abide by goals and appreciate the function just about every working day that I’ve performed.”

Individuals who had come to America, he wrote, “found operate and education and learning for their small children. And with the instruction, their kids received better get the job done. As it was then, so it is now and will be. As the Irish say, God bless the do the job.” Flanigan’s first spouse, Anne, was also an immigrant from Ireland. She died in 1992.

Flanigan’s abiding religion in the job of immigration in making The usa aided make him a most perceptive chronicler of the new immigrant experience — that wave of Asian and Latino entrepreneurship that has created California in latest a long time.

The explosive, tumultuous emergence of Asia as an financial pressure he noticed as one thing to be not feared but comprehended, and he used substantially of 1999 on extended excursions of Japan, Korea and China to make the phenomenon intelligible to the visitors of The Situations.

In his very last ebook, “The Korean-American Dream,” released in 2018, Flanigan traced the rise of that ethnic community to the standing of “both a piece of the American material and a gentle shining towards America’s long run.”

Flanigan’s work brought him many awards, capped in 2014 by the Lifetime Accomplishment Award of the Gerald R. Loeb Awards, which are thought of the maximum accolades in American enterprise journalism.

“Jim is, by nature, self-confident in the foreseeable future — in Southern California’s and in the country’s, also the world’s,” noticed Martin Baron, who not too long ago retired as government editor of the Washington Article and was company editor of The Occasions for section of Flanigan’s tenure as its small business columnist, in supporting Flanigan’s nomination for the award.

“He does not dismiss the obstructions, the failures, and the follies,” Baron mentioned, “but he has observed all over again and yet again how they are get over by means of innovation, generate, and entrepreneurship, here and in significantly of the acquiring environment.”

Remembers Flanigan’s daughter, Siobhan: “My father experienced two sayings that he repeated to me all my lifetime, all the time: ‘Life is joy,’ and ‘there are no uninteresting people in the earth.’”

“Business journalism is a demanding but knockabout trade,” Flanigan would say, “full of secret clues and red herrings.” Questing for people tricks led him all over the earth, which includes to the Soviet Union during the Cold War and to Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia right after the Gulf War. “He chased tales in Japan and Egypt and all more than Europe and the United States,” Siobhan recalled.

James Joseph Flanigan was born in the Bronx, New York, on June 6, 1936. He graduated from New York’s Cardinal Hayes Significant University and in 1961 from Manhattan School, which he finished following a two-year stint in the Army. In 1963 he secured his career as a enterprise reporter at the Herald Tribune, where he had worked through university as a night duplicate boy and right after graduating as an editorial assistant and a New York-based reporter for the Tribune‘s Paris edition.

There he arrived below the wing of his very first significant mentor in journalism, Tribune small business editor Ben Weberman.

“I went to Ben and confessed, ‘I never know much about enterprise,’” Flanigan recalled.

Weberman replied, “So I’ll teach you, and you are going to understand how the authentic earth performs.”

Immediately after the Herald Tribune folded in 1966 Flanigan moved to the enterprise magazine Forbes. There he met his next mentor, the magazine’s famous editor, James W. Michaels.

Michaels demanded that the producing be clear and intricate scenarios be described to the reader merely and straight, Flanigan recounted. “‘Readers are nervous individuals,’” he would say. “‘You ought to just take them by the elbow and wander them through.’ A story should be ‘dulce et utile,’ sweetly or wittily explained to but arrive to the position.”

A handful of many years soon after becoming a member of The Instances, Flanigan was recruited back to New York by Michaels for a prime-level writing and modifying purpose. The Instances got him back again, nonetheless, with an present to grow to be a columnist. Just after retiring from The Instances in 2005, Flanigan ongoing to produce, contributing a every month column to the New York Moments. His to start with book, “Smile Southern California, You are the Heart of the Universe: The Economic climate and People of a Global Region,” appeared in 2009.

Flanigan is survived by his daughter, Siobhan, of Portland, Ore., son Michael, of Chino, Calif., and his wife, the previous Patricia Quatrine, whom he married in 1997. His first wife, Anne, died in 1992. He is also survived by nine grandchildren and three stepdaughters, Gina Quatrine of Redondo Seashore Pamela Haase of Plymouth, Mich. and Christine Conway of Malibu.

Funeral arrangements are pending. The relatives asks that in lieu of bouquets, contributions be created to Manhattan College or university.

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