They don't call Steve Krafft a probing reporter for nothing.
That's why the Channel 10 investigative news hound is the recipient of our latest Bill Close Award. New Times periodically bestows the coveted award, named after the former Channel 10 fossil, on local newscasters who go below and beside the call of duty.
In his April 4 lead story on the Sheriff's Posse's efforts to clear prostitutes off East Van Buren Street, Krafft was determined to prove he possesses that rare combination of eloquence and Mike Wallace-esque street savvy.
"It's no secret East Van Buren Street is main street for prostitution," Krafft intoned gravely. "They ply their trade day and night, shadowed by their pimps, leaving crime and disease in their wake, robbing this hardscrabble neighborhood of its self-respect.
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"Streetwalkers don't like to talk about their work," he said as he popped from behind some hardscrabble shrubbery to confront a woman on a Van Buren sidewalk.
"Hi, how are you doing?" Krafft chirped.
Was she a streetwalker, or merely a woman walking down the street? Whatever she was, she was being shadowed not by a pimp, but by a man thrusting a microphone toward her. She turned tail and strode resolutely off, perhaps robbed of her self-respect.
With his quarry on the run, Krafft cut right to the chase.
"Madam, are you a prostitute?" he shouted with bravado as he rushed to catch up. "I'm not a cop; I'm from Channel 10. . . . Excuse me, ma'am. I hate to pry, but are you a prostitute?"
Next, Krafft cornered a posse member and wondered aloud: "Do you think you'll catch anybody in the act?" Krafft closed his riveting composition with a live commentary from the "mean street": "Right now on East Van Buren Street, all is quiet. If there are any prostitutes, they are keeping a very low profile right now. . . ."
To which news anchor June Thomson quipped: "At least they are staying clear of you, Steve.