Keith Leighty

July 13, 2006
Posted in interviews
July 13, 2006 Terkel

Keith is another one those people who was more than willing to talk to us about what they’ve learned in the pursuit of their current positions. We came to the New York Times to talk to Ford Burkhart. Ford took us on a tour and noted that Keith was also a UofA graduate as we stopped by his desk. So, naturally we started talking about his days in Tucson and how yes, it is still very hot, and yes, Eegee’s frozen drinks are still the best way to cool off.

Keith told us that he is from Peoria, the oldest community in Illinois. It has a population of 112,936 and is equal distance between St. Louis and Chicago. Keith came to Tucson, Arizona to attend the University with an original focus to major in engineering. But in his freshman year he took a calculus class with a book too expensive and failed the class. He decided to explore a more familiar major: journalism. The same major as his father.

Keith’s father was a journalist in Peoria who mainly covered high school sports. He also covered three All-Star games and a World Series. Given the fatherly influence, Keith decided to pursue a similar route. In 1976, his senior year of college, Keith took a job writing for The Arizona Wildcat, the school’s newspaper. There, he got a sense of what it was like to write in a newspaper environment, getting a taste for deadlines and stories. He decided that he liked it enough to pursue a journalism career after graduation. He got a job in Kingman, Arizona where he worked for their newspaper, and moved across the Colorado River to Bullhead City after that. He then took a position with the Associated Press in Chicago where he covered sports. Keith remembers that one of the best moments was when White Sox catcher, Carlton Fisk, hit a walk off triple to win the game. Keith got to be in the clubhouse when Carlton was ranting and raving of how he has “wheels,” despite popular belief.

Eventually Keith ended up at the New York Times, where he now works as a backfield editor. In our talk, he showed us some of the stories he was looking over, including one about a Goldman Sachs executive that made $37 million last year. Sensing that it was crunch time for the paper, we politely thanked Keith and let him get back to his work. But not before encouraging him to “Bear Down,” the old Uof A saying.