Terry Tang quickly responded to the potential for a viral story in a sparse email that went out late on a Thursday afternoon, about a Native American group acquiring the rights to one of America’s most enduring advertisements. The 1970s anti-pollution ad shows a man in Native American attire shed a single tear after he canoed through a littered lake.
Tang looked up the actor’s relatives and found a stepson living in New Mexico. She was alone in reporting the family’s comments about being resigned to the decision and how the advertisement brought back memories of Iron Eyes Cody’s time as an actor.
Tang smartly focused the story on pop culture. No other major news outlet had the story. It showed up on websites for the Washington Post, NPR, Fox News, NBC News, Los Angeles Times, ABC News, The Hill and across the country. The New York Times followed up with its own story on Monday. The story was shared widely on Twitter with hundreds of thousands of views.