A tip to Mike Balsamo on the prison death of Bernie Madoff, combined with Tom Hays’ deep reporting, delivered an exclusive on the notorious Ponzi-schemer whose massive securities swindle wiped out people’s fortunes and ruined charities.
Washington-based Justice Department reporter Balsamo called his editor Colleen Long early last Wednesday, calmly asking, “Hey, I’m driving. Can you help me with something? Bernie Madoff is dead.” Balsamo’s deep network of sources had tipped him off, and within minutes an alert moved, followed by a short story. Balsamo and New York reporter Hays worked to fill out the story, Hays layering it with details gleaned from experience covering Madoff and his trial.
AP was ahead of the competition by 25 minutes to an hour, and many major outlets — including ABC, CBS and Fox — relied on the AP pair’s quick, exclusive reporting.