Carl Hiaasen is one of those journalists revered in newsrooms across the country.
A best-selling novelist who could have left behind newspaper life, Hiaasen kept writing his column for the Miami Herald, blasting greedy Florida developers and politicians despoiling his native state's bountiful natural resources.
After 35 years, Hiassen wrote his last column for the Herald this week. Hiaasen expressed sadness at the disappearance of local newspapers across the country.
Hiaasen was admired by reporters throughout the United States for his fearless columns and his comic novels satirizing the state's rapacious business people.
Many newspaper scribes write novels, dreaming of matching Hiaasen's success. But few would continue working for a newspaper if they published a best-seller.
Hiaasen's love for daily newspapers burned brightly from the day he walked into the Herald newsroom as a city desk reporter in 1976. He began his column in 1985, his comic brilliance enlivening his exposes of corruption.
A Florida native who grew up on the edge of the Everglades, Hiaasen defended the "river of grass" from the constant threat of development. He exposed corruption in the state Capitol and local government.
Blasting rapacious business people and corporations, he also expressed love for the state's wildlife, even professing an affection for snakes.
Hiaasen in his final column remembered his brother, Rob, one of five journalists at the Annapolis, Md., Capital-Gazette killed by a gunman in 2018.
That was the most serious of constant attacks against the news media in recent years. A massive decline in advertising during the covid pandemic has worsened the already dire condition of local newspapers.
Hiaasen noted in his farewell column that developers and local politicians in communities that have lost newspapers can make shady deals without public scrutiny.
Fans of Hiassen can look forward to new novels, and he likely will keep writing for other publications. But his retirement is like the loss of a family member for Miami Herald readers.