Tim Reiterman: Jonestown Massacre Survivor is Still a Proud Journalist Today

If there’s one thing journalist Tim Reiterman has never shied away from conceding, it’s that he was truly excited to step foot into Jonestown since that was the one piece missing from his reporting. After all, as explored in Hulu’s ‘Cult Massacre: One Day in Jonestown,’ he’d been reporting on Peoples Temple for a while but had never been to their settlement in Guyana. However, he admittedly did believe the worst result of his travel there alongside a handful of other journalists plus Congressman Leo Ryan would be entry denial, not a shootout after they’d helped some followers escape.

Tim Reiterman is an Award-winning Journalist

It was reportedly back when Tim was just a young boy that he’d developed a passion for journalism and writing, only for it to continue expanding as the years passed by. That’s how he ended up enrolling for a Master’s in Journalism from the University of California-Berkeley before really kickstarting his career at the Associated Press. However, within a few short years, she evolved into a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner, which is where he was at the time he learned of the Peoples Temple cult and began writing about it.

Though little did Tim know this story would be not just career but also life-defining as he ended up being shot in the process – he was shot at while trying to return to the US alongside 14 defectors on November 18, 1978, only to be rescued a day later and flown to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. It was there that he was treated before he managed to write an extensive eyewitness account that appeared in the Examiner the very next day – on November 20. Little did he realize that story would still be important today because of just how tragic leader Jim Jones made the entire ordeal – he ordered the shootout before ordering his followers to commit mass murder-suicide, resulting in the death of 918 individuals.

Tim Reiterman is a Journalist Even Today

As a result of everything Tim had experienced, he and John Jacobs decided to publish a detailed account of every aspect of the Jonestown take in a book titled ‘Raven’ in 1982. He then gradually eveolved into a writer as well as editor for the Los Angeles Times, which is where he served for a total of 19 years before evolving into the news editor for Northern California at the Associated Press. And from what we can tell, he remains at the organization to this day, with the only difference being that his title is now Head of the Global Environmental Reporting Team. It’s a full-circle moment, considering he started his career here.

“I think it’s critical, regardless of the media platforms, that news organizations continue to ambitiously and aggressively pursue the most difficult stories,” Tim had once said upon being asked about his opinion on the state of newspapers these days. “When news organizations are downsizing, scaling back and in some cases dying, the tendency is to abandon the tough stories, leave them to somebody else, go for the easy, quick, entertaining pieces that might be satisfying in the short term but don’t really enhance our understanding of the world in any meaningful way.”

Tim then continued, “The puzzle that newspapers are grappling with, of course, has been how to present news on the Internet and do it in a way that is profitable. I don’t think anyone’s figured that out yet. But as long as the content is good and serves the public, I think there will be a desire for it.” It thus comes as no surprise, he remains determined to serve people with the written word to this day, all the while devoting his free time to his family – he’s based in San Francisco, California, where he seems to be surrounded by loved ones despite preferring to understandably keep the details around the same private for safety reasons.

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