Donna Rossi, a longtime and hard-hitting reporter, is retiring from KPHO News after 24 years with the CBS station and nearly 30 years in Arizona journalism.
The longtime face of KPHO News will be gone, but not forgotten.
The one-time Phoenix beat cop who made a career move after struggling with the rampant injustices inflicted on female officers left her professional mark well beyond the Phoenix city limits when she went to journalism school and started telling the people’s stories.
What made Donna great as a reporter goes beyond her training as a cop and good university education. It’s something you can’t buy or even be indoctrinated into. It can be a gift and a curse at the same time. And it shows to those she encountered while reporting the news. What is that? Donna flat out with no equivocation gives a “you know what!” That’s who she is! And people get that.
No one has to talk to a reporter. You can’t be compelled to tell a reporter something that might endanger you, cost you your job or lead to personal loss. But people tell Donna things that they might not ever tell anyone else because they can tell within minutes, if not seconds, she really cares about what they have to say and is willing to tell stories that give many with no voice an opportunity to be heard and fight back. That’s what makes Donna great as a reporter, communicator and one exceptionally fine human being.
In today’s’ world of choreographed sound bites, fluff-puff stories on the front pages of major newspapers and slam-bam reporting, the Donna Rossis of the world are a shrinking asset. With the declining trust in many of our institutions, public and private alike, especially government and journalism, they’re more important than ever.
For as long as I can remember watching her report from KPHO I always felt a sense of trust in what she said. I could tell she didn’t back down and wasn’t afraid of the powers who would suppress her voice. No doubt her bosses at KPHO got plenty of nasty phone calls and hate mail from those she exposed in her reporting.
My biggest regret about her reporting was her stories were limited by the 30-minute time constraints in the newscast where the anchor’s playground banter, sports and overly dramatic weather reports took priority over the honest and hard-hitting news we need every day. If I want to be entertained, I’ll watch old Disney cartoons.
There’s going to be huge hole in Arizona journalism with Donna’s move out from in front of the cameras and away from KPHO. I doubt that in today’s climate it will ever be filled. I question if corporate journalism is even interested in filling it?
What 30 years of Donna Rossi gave us, you and me, was a sense of power in knowing there was a woman who’d take a stand and do battle for us, even if it hurt like hell and she’d get injured in the process.
Thanks, Donna! You’ll be missed but never forgotten by the hundreds of thousands of people you gave something special to for the last 30 years.
– Bill Richardson is a retired Mesa police detective.