Close calls Featured

5:37am EDT July 28, 2003
I once covered a confrontation between residents of pricey suburban neighborhood and one of their neighbors, a developer who was proposing a new housing plan adjacent to theirs that was to include homes by a builder who specialized in moderately priced houses.

Some of his neighbors, 100 or more, confronted the developer as he arrived home early one evening. He attempted to explain what he was trying to do and why it wouldn't threaten their property values. The situation was charged with tension, fear and gritty local politics.

I got a photo of the developer, looking a bit beleaguered in the middle of the throng, and wrote the story by observing the crowd, hearing their concerns and listening to the developer make his case. I believed readers might perceive the developer as the bad guy, even though I tried to report the story in as balanced a manner as possible.

After the story ran, the developer called to thank me for the even-handed treatment he received.

Getting close to a subject or situation is the best way to get the story. There's no substitute for sitting across the table from someone and watching him scratch his head or laugh or wrinkle his forehead in response to your questions.

Smart Business tries to do that every month. With some skill and luck, we can transmit the experiences of business owners to our readers in an authentic way. You can't be there, so we are.

Every September, local business leaders get an opportunity to sit face-to-face with their peers at the St. Barnabas CEO Leadership Conference. The conferees, CEOs and their seconds-in-command witness corporate leaders address critical issues that face the region's business community.

This year, the Sept. 19 program's theme is "S.O.S. Pennsylvania: Distress Signal or Signs of Success?" Conference organizers are planning an impressive lineup of panelists.

Smart Business chose to be a sponsor of the conference this year, in part because we believe that the best way for business leaders to gain an understanding of each other and the issues that confront them is to share their experiences, listen to each other and challenge themselves and their peers with innovative ideas.

I could go on, but you need be there to really get it.

For more information, visit