The Suffolk County Legislature honored former Newsday reporter Rick Brand Wednesday for his work covering county government for more than four decades.
Legislators commended Brand for serving as “an independent voice for readers,” and for making his stories fair, even on controversial topics.
“We might not have always loved the stories you’ve written, but you were always very fair and balanced,” Legis. William J. Lindsay III (D-Bohemia) said. “I knew when I spoke to him for an article, he would always give me a fair shake.”
At a ceremony in the legislative chamber in Hauppauge, Brand told lawmakers he “loved covering this place.” He noted the important work the legislature has done over the years and said it does its "best work" when it acts independently from the rest of county government.
“It’s what you’ve done, not what I’ve done,” Brand said, as several current and former Newsday journalists and his wife, Kathy, sat in the crowd to honor him.
“I’ve just been around to cover it,” Brand said.
Brand, 69, of Blue Point, started his career in 1972 as a reporter for the Long Island News. He spent four years as news editor at Suffolk Life newspapers before joining Newsday as a reporter exactly 41 years ago, on Oct. 2, 1978.
As a reporter and columnist on county government and politics, Brand wrote over 12,000 stories for Newsday.
He covered major stories including the Southwest Sewer District scandal, a police testing scandal and the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant. He was part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning team that covered the crash of TWA Flight 800, and is a member of the Long Island Press Club Hall of Fame.
Brand left Newsday on Aug. 16. He was one of about 45 Newsday journalists who took a voluntary buyout.
He received a standing ovation at the legislature Wednesday.
“I never thought these words were going to come out of my mouth: I miss Rick Brand writing for the paper,” said Legis. Robert Trotta (R-Fort Salonga), who admitted he called Brand anonymously in 1991 to discuss the police cheating scandal.