Retiring veteran reporter Norman Cox looks back on his career

INDIANAPOLIS - After almost four decades at RTV6, reporter Norman Cox is turning off his mic for the last time. Before his Nov. 1 departure, Norman took time to reflect on his time covering Indianapolis news.

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"As I prepare to leave Channel Six after nearly 37 years, I marvel at how much change I've seen and been a part of during that time -- change in the city and state, change in government, change in my own business. Good change and bad change.
 
When I arrived here, Indianapolis was a mostly blue collar town with one major league team, one auto race, a smattering of culture and little in the way of dining and entertainment options. 

Remember when Racers owner Nelson Skalbania sneered that you couldn't even get a hamburger after 10 p.m. in Downtown Indianapolis? That was about the time he shipped Wayne Gretzky off to Edmonton.
 
How that's all changed. A dynamic international economy, despite the loss of so much of its manufacturing base. Two big league teams. Four races. A host of first-class music, dance and theatrical opportunities. And more good restaurants than you can fit into a whole year's diet plan.
 
And civilization no longer stops at the county line. I remember being assigned to a story in Fishers after I'd been here more than a year and having to ask where it was. No longer.
 
Much of the credit for this goes to civic leaders who pushed for a bigger economic base, one based on sports, conventions and travel, and medicine. 

Some didn't like the methods they used, which depended on raising taxes while rarely asking voters their opinions, but they accomplished what they set out to do.
 
Unfortunately, change in the state as a whole has not been as positive. Remember the economically and politically powerful UAW Belt that ran from Kokomo to Marion to Anderson to Muncie to New Castle?  Almost all gone. 

It boggles my mind that there are no union auto jobs left in Anderson. What a Springsteen-quality heartbreak for people who depended on a whole factory-based culture all those years. 

As a Pittsburgh native who has watched so many of our steel mills fall into rusty heaps, I will always feel for them.

My most vivid memories originated at the Statehouse, where I covered seven governors and 37 legislative sessions.

This could be a frustrating place to work. The built-in bias toward inaction, based on the concept of the citizen-legislature that met only a few months of the year, was incredibly frustrating. 

It seemed lawmakers spent most of those weeks telling Hoosiers they didn't have enough time to accomplish what those people wanted instead of actually trying to do it.

Remember how long it took to get the lottery or horse racing? Cross-county banking? The failure to modernize the banking industry is why Indiana has no major home-owned banks anymore. They all remained weak so powerful out-of-state companies could swoop in and pick them off. 

A few powerful people can hold up forever things Hoosiers want. But with my own approach to the General Assembly, which was that of a sport for non-athletes, it was still incredible fun.

And I will remember always the antics of some of these members. Especially Pat Bauer, with the endless snickering targeted at the fashion-challenged wig, with the walk-out he led, and the incredible attempt to cast a vote from an absent member with a webcam on his death bed more than a hundred miles away.
 
Several governors stand out. I wasn't here for Doc Bowen's first term, when he pushed through the ground-breaking property tax reform plan, but I was there for the underrated Bob Orr, who dragged the educational system kicking and screaming into the 20th century. 

Evan Bayh, the Great Democratic Hope who was almost single-handedly responsible for his party's ascension to equality in the 1980s, a position now gone like washed-over writing on a beach. 

And Mitch Daniels, who turned the often sleepy governor's office into an endless source of ideas and activity. The man who accomplished the simple, but seemingly impossible task of finally getting Indiana on the same time as the rest of the world.
 
And, of course, I can't forget my own business. When I came here, journalism was dominated by two newspapers, whose reporters often sneered at the relatively upstart TV industry. 

And yet, in what I feel was my best-written story ever, I wrote the obituary for one of them when I covered the last press run of the Indianapolis News.
 
Nor is TV immune to the shrinking news economy. My colleagues and I all individually do the work of what used to be several people, a fact which, honesty compels me to say, solidified my decision to leave now. 

But I've been very lucky. Few on-air people get to retire. Most are carried out on their shields. Howard  Caldwell, Barbara Boyd, a few people down the street. And now me.

I leave with a million memories and eternal gratitude for the people who trusted me and invited me into their homes every evening. 

Thank you all. 

And keep on watching over your government."

-- Norman Cox, RTV6 reporter 1976-2013

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