I’m editor of Plastics News, a weekly business newspaper that’s part of Crain Communications Inc., and I’m also editorial director for Crain’s global polymer group. Crain has a total of six polymer-related publications, including Rubber & Plastics News, Tire Business and Sustainable Plastics, among others. I started on Plastics News as a staff reporter in 1991, after working for several daily newspapers. I manage a team of very talented journalists, and I also write and edit.
Can you tell us what types of stories, trends or issues are on your radar now? Right now, it’s coronavirus, and how plastics companies are dealing with the issue and the potentially falling economy. If you had asked a few weeks ago, it would have been sustainability and the circular economy, and what role plastics play there. There’s been a lot of legislative activity on plastics lately, with bans on single-use products, plus efforts by some industry groups to preempt local bans.
Describe the craziest or most fun story you have written. There have been quite a few! Early in my career, I did a few stories about the SS United States, an ocean liner that’s been idle for many years. It was in the news, and it happened to be docked near the newspaper where I was working in Virginia, so I decided to go check it out in person. The guy who was standing watch must have been bored, because instead of turning me away, he gave me a tour of the whole ship, which was not in great shape. That was fun and memorable.
What story or stories are you most proud of? Stories where I help hold institutions / companies / organizations accountable for their decisions. They don’t come every day, but they are rewarding when they happen, because I feel like I’m making a difference.
What elements or characteristics do you look for in a story? In journalism school, I learned that conflict was important to a good story. I don’t think it’s always necessary, but it helps. I also like it when a story features people, and has authentic quotes from sources, not the kind you see in too many press releases.
How long have you been in journalism and how did you get started? 37 years, not counting internships. My first job out of college was as a suburban reporter for The Milwaukee Journal.
Finish this sentence: If I am not reporting, I am … Playing or coaching soccer. I played and coached a lot in Ohio, and I was very pleasantly surprised to get on a Detroit City Futball League team shortly after I moved here in 2013. (Osborn ‘til I die!).
What advice do you have for PR people that want to pitch you? It helps a lot when they are familiar with what we cover.
Any pet peeves with PR people? The worst, and it happens too frequently, is when they send out news, but the company contact is unavailable to talk. We don’t want to run a press release, we want to talk to people and ask questions.
Tell us a little about yourself (family, interests, hobbies, background, etc.) Been married for nearly 35 years. Laura and I have three very smart and talented adult daughters (none followed me into journalism!).
You can follow Don on Twitter at: @donloepp