Column: If only every day were Tim Gannon Day

GRANT PARPAN PHOTO | Councilman George Gabrielsen, right, giving a proclamation to New-Review reporter Tim Gannon declaring Jan. 23, 2014, “Tim Gannon Day” in Riverhead Town.

If you’ve ever read the News-Review, you’ve probably seen Tim Gannon’s byline.

Tim has been a reporter for the paper since 1996, covering everything from Town Hall and police news to 100th birthday parties and school board meetings.

When I was first hired as a reporter here, I remember picking up that week’s edition and being amazed at how many stories Tim had written. Instead of the three to five assignments per week I was told during my interview to expect, Tim had penned 13 pieces that week. In the eight years since, I’ve never come close to that many bylines in a single paper.

But prolific reporting is just one thing that makes Tim — or Gannon, as you’re more likely to know him — unique. And a lot of the rare qualities that make everyone’s favorite News-Review reporter such a special person were on display last Thursday at Digger O’Dell’s, where much of Riverhead came out to celebrate my colleague’s 50th birthday.

In honor of the golden anniversary of his birth, Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter and New York State Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo gave proclamations declaring Jan. 23, 2014, “Tim Gannon Day” in Riverhead Town and the 2nd Assembly District, respectively.

For some, the declaration of Tim Gannon Day may seem superfluous. If you’ve ever spent five minutes with the birthday boy, however, you get why everyone walked out of Digger’s that night with a smile — and it wasn’t from the booze. A fellow reporter said we need to make the party an annual event. Others joked that Tim Gannon Day should be recognized at the federal level, too (let’s get on it, Mr. Bishop!).

It’s remarkable that someone who’s worked in news for as long as Tim has, mostly covering politics and government, can be liked by so many people. Before joining the News-Review and The Suffolk Times, Gannon covered the East End for the former Suffolk Life and Traveler-Watchman newspapers. The way he’s treated everyone fairly, kept a sense of humor about the job, and himself, and always made deadline — or at least filed before the grace period ended — have earned him the admiration of many.

The proclamations and speeches given at the party prove as much.

“Whereas he has always adhered to or surpassed any journalistic standard of merit and objectivity in reporting, and the byline bearing the name Tim Gannon has become synonymous with trust for his many readers,” read the proclamation from the state.

That’s not to say Tim hasn’t fired off a one-liner or two thousand over the years teasing the many government officials he covers every day. But he doesn’t do that because they’re red or blue, he does it when they make green mistakes or leave the taxpayers feeling black and blue.

The respect Gannon has earned was evident from the presence of elected town officials and other local leaders at his party. Town Board members Jodi Giglio and George Gabrielsen joined Mr. Walter, though they scattered their appearances, perhaps in an effort to avoid a quorum or, more likely, a bar fight. Long Island Farm Bureau executive director Joe Gergela, former school board president Angela DeVito, deputy town supervisor Jill Lewis and former town GOP chairman John Galla also dropped by. Mr. Galla even roasted Tim with a list of “the top 10 things to know as Tim Gannon celebrates his 50th birthday.”

Mr. Galla concluded by saying, “Here’s the real No. 1 thing to know about Tim Gannon. He’s one of the most respectable and objective reporters you’ll ever find. His quick, dry wit is exceeded only by his keen reporting skills.”

Soon after the roast, Gannon thanked everyone for coming. “I think this is the most people to ever come to a Tim Gannon birthday party,” he said.

Wait until he sees the crowd at his 51st.

Grant Parpan is the executive editor of Times/Review Newsgroup. He can be reached at [email protected] or 631-354-8046.