Hiltzik: James Flanigan, business columnist, dies at 85

James Flanigan, whose 2 times-weekly column was a mainstay of enterprise coverage at The Moments for some two a long time, died Aug. 19 just after a brief disease. He was 85.

From the mid-1960s — when he was lured west from a higher-amount enhancing job at Forbes to bolster The Times’ small business and fiscal coverage — until 2005, Flanigan guided Occasions audience by means of a period of dizzying variations in organization, market booms and crashes, bubbles and bursts, scandals and triumphs.

“He turned an instantaneous star in Los Angeles for each his investigative reporting and his highly effective composing,” recalled Paul E. Steiger, the previous Instances enterprise editor who recruited Flanigan and afterwards served as handling editor of the Wall Street Journal and, until eventually 2020, govt chairman of ProPublica, the nonprofit investigative journalism firm, which he assisted discovered in 2008.

Steiger known as Flanigan “an extraordinary expertise. His was a person of the greatest mixtures of reporting insight, human empathy, and creating flair that I at any time encountered in business enterprise and economic journalism.”

Readers understood to assume in a Flanigan column percipience and foresight, expressed in swish, unaffected prose. His colleagues at The Situations keep in mind him for his generosity of spirit, previous-faculty colleagueship and his optimistic outlook on lifetime — and for supplying cookies to the enterprise news team just about every Thursday, invariably accompanied by a stanza or two of inspired topical verse.

As early as 1983, Flanigan warned that the gap amongst abundant and bad in The united states was widening. The ethos of “Neiman Marcus for the lucky, K-Mart for the rest,” he wrote then, was “reversing an egalitarian pattern of 50 percent a century.” He referred to as for a redoubled expenditure in schooling “to continue to keep us a culture with prospect for all.”

That same 12 months, pondering Pope John Paul II’s protection of the Solidarity trade union for the duration of a take a look at to his Polish homeland, Flanigan reminded his viewers that “the striving for dignity in the American get the job done power is in our oldest custom — way again further than the increase of labor unionism in the late 19th Century, to the incredibly beginnings of our market in New England.”

A recurrent topic in Flanigan’s perform was the rewards of immigration. On July 3, 2005, in his remaining Sunday column for The Times, he positioned that in a private context.

“Eighty yrs ago James Flanigan, my father, immigrated to New York from County Clare,” Ireland, he wrote. “He was 21 many years outdated with just seven many years of schooling. He discovered do the job loading vehicles in a warehouse. In 1927, Jane Whyte arrived from the very same little city of Lahinch. She was 23 with six yrs of education. She went to work — as most of the Irish ladies of that working day did — in live-in domestic provider.”

In the 1930s, he recounted, his father grew to become one of the founders of New York’s Grocery Warehouseman’s Union (later to come to be aspect of the Teamsters), but continued to do the job nights in warehouses all his lifestyle, setting up an The united states that “gave me a good training and the chance to be a fellow who could adhere to desires and like the do the job every working day that I have carried out.”

Those who experienced occur to America, he wrote, “found work and training for their little ones. And with the education and learning, their children received much better perform. As it was then, so it is now and will be. As the Irish say, God bless the function.” Flanigan’s first spouse, Anne, was also an immigrant from Ireland. She died in 1992.

Flanigan’s abiding faith in the function of immigration in constructing The united states assisted make him a most perceptive chronicler of the new immigrant knowledge — that wave of Asian and Latino entrepreneurship that has developed California in latest many years.

The explosive, tumultuous emergence of Asia as an financial pressure he noticed as some thing to be not feared but comprehended, and he invested substantially of 1999 on prolonged tours of Japan, Korea and China to make the phenomenon intelligible to the readers of The Moments.

In his previous e-book, “The Korean-American Aspiration,” released in 2018, Flanigan traced the rise of that ethnic local community to the position of “both a piece of the American fabric and a gentle shining toward America’s upcoming.”

Flanigan’s operate introduced him a lot of awards, capped in 2014 by the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Gerald R. Loeb Awards, which are deemed the best accolades in American business enterprise journalism.

“Jim is, by character, assured in the upcoming — in Southern California’s and in the country’s, also the world’s,” observed Martin Baron, who a short while ago retired as government editor of the Washington Write-up and was enterprise editor of The Occasions for aspect of Flanigan’s tenure as its organization columnist, in supporting Flanigan’s nomination for the award.

“He does not dismiss the road blocks, the failures, and the follies,” Baron noted, “but he has found again and once more how they are triumph over via innovation, drive, and entrepreneurship, listed here and in significantly of the building planet.”

Recollects Flanigan’s daughter, Siobhan: “My father experienced two sayings that he repeated to me all my life, all the time: ‘Life is pleasure,’ and ‘there are no uninteresting people today in the planet.’”

“Business journalism is a demanding but knockabout trade,” Flanigan would say, “full of top secret clues and red herrings.” Questing for all those tricks led him close to the earth, which include to the Soviet Union for the duration of the Chilly War and to Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia soon after the Gulf War. “He chased tales in Japan and Egypt and all over 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 Faculty, which he concluded just after a two-12 months stint in the Army. In 1963 he secured his career as a business reporter at the Herald Tribune, wherever he experienced worked all through college or university as a night time copy boy and just after graduating as an editorial assistant and a New York-based reporter for the Tribune‘s Paris version.

There he came beneath the wing of his 1st significant mentor in journalism, Tribune organization editor Ben Weberman.

“I went to Ben and confessed, ‘I really don’t know considerably about company,’” Flanigan recalled.

Weberman replied, “So I’ll educate you, and you will find out how the authentic earth functions.”

Following the Herald Tribune folded in 1966 Flanigan moved to the company magazine Forbes. There he achieved his 2nd mentor, the magazine’s legendary editor, James W. Michaels.

Michaels demanded that the writing be distinct and advanced circumstances be spelled out to the reader only and directly, Flanigan recounted. “‘Readers are anxious people,’” he would say. “‘You ought to take them by the elbow and stroll them as a result of.’ A story must be ‘dulce et utile,’ sweetly or wittily instructed but come to the place.”

A handful of several years after becoming a member of The Periods, Flanigan was recruited again to New York by Michaels for a best-amount crafting and editing position. The Occasions obtained him back, nevertheless, with an present to grow to be a columnist. Just after retiring from The Instances in 2005, Flanigan continued to produce, contributing a every month column to the New York Periods. His very first ebook, “Smile Southern California, You are the Centre of the Universe: The Economic climate and Folks of a World Location,” appeared in 2009.

Flanigan is survived by his daughter, Siobhan, of Portland, Ore., son Michael, of Chino, Calif., and his spouse, the previous Patricia Quatrine, whom he married in 1997. He is also survived by 9 grandchildren and 3 stepdaughters, Gina Quatrine of Redondo Seashore Pamela Haase of Plymouth, Mich. and Christine Conway of Malibu.

Funeral preparations are pending. The loved ones asks that in lieu of flowers, contributions be manufactured to Manhattan School.

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