Mike Cochran: “He had the ability to get people who didn’t want to talk to him to open up. They ended up liking him too.”

From an obit in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram by Harrison Mantas headlined “Fort Worth journalist Mike Cochran remembered for his ability to befriend everyone”:

Mike Cochran had the ability to get people who didn’t want to talk to him to open up. They ended up liking him too, colleagues recalled, even though he had the ammunition to nail them.

Cochran, an award-winning journalist who spent 44 years working for the Associated Press and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, died Tuesday.

He was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, grew up in Stamford and started his career as a sports reporter in Abilene in 1958. He moved to Fort Worth in 1961 to open the AP’s Fort Worth bureau. He spent the next 39 years in Fort Worth covering everything from the JFK assassination to the Cullen Davis murder trial and the Apollo 11 moon landing to the 1985 Mexico City earthquake.

Colleagues remembered him for his warm demeanor and his ability to get sources to talk when they otherwise wouldn’t want to.

He scored a coveted interview with Lee Harvey Oswald’s wife Marina after showing up on her doorstep and striking up a friendly conversation after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas.

They started talking about a pair of hand irons in Oswald’s fireplace, when Marina commented on how they were a gift from her husband that she had always hated….

Former CBS newsman Bob Schieffer worked alongside Cochran when Schieffer was a reporter at the Star-Telegram and Cochran’s AP office was in the same building. Schieffer said it’s rare in life that people are really good at what they do and are also really nice people.

“He didn’t scare people off by trying to impress people with who he was,” Schieffer said.

Cochran was able to get the best quotes because he knew how to talk to people, and knew the right questions to ask, Schieffer said.

He was among the reporters who stepped in to be a pall bearer at Oswald’s funeral after Fort Worth Police requested for help.

He probably shouldn’t have done it, but he jumped in because it needed to be done, said Eddye Gallagher, a former president of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Fort Worth chapter….

“He made journalism a calling and, more often than not, fun. That’s a very rare commodity these days,” said John Lumpkin, Cochran’s editor at the Associated Press in Dallas.

Despite his many journalism awards, Cochran always cared most about his readers, his sources, and his friends, Lumpkin said.

Mike Cochran was inducted into the Texas Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2018 and the Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame in 2021.

Harrison Mantas covers the city of Fort Worth’s government, agencies and people. He previously covered fact-checking and misinformation at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, as well as local, state, and federal politics in Phoenix, Arizona and Washington, D.C.
Also see the AP story by Jamie Stengle headlined “”One of a kind’: AP reporter Mike Cochran dies at 85.”


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