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Mike Deeson to Tampa City Council: ‘I’m not done yet’

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The Tampa City Council awarded legendary investigative television reporter Mike Deeson a commendation on Thursday, even though the venerable newshound stressed to the board that he’s not yet ready to ride off into the sunset.

Deesonstunned the Tampa Bay community last month when he announced without fanfare that he was leaving WTSP 10 News, effective immediately.

Although the award-winning journalist may have grown weary of television news politics, Deeson clearly isn’t ready to give up on reporting, telling the Council that through his Facebook and YouTube page, he’ll be continuing to hold local government and business officials accountable in the near future with more reporting, just not on the CBS affiliate.

Deeson worked in television news for more than 40 years, the last 30 with WTSP.

The Chicago native said that he first covered the Tampa City Council back in 1982, where the big stories were flooding in South Tampa, Councilwoman Helen Chavez pushing legislation to mandate that men keep their shirts on while attending Tampa Bay Buccaneer games at Houlihan Stadium and could there be a place to build a baseball stadium if Major League Baseball expanded into the Tampa Bay Area.

“Nothing’s changed in 35 years,” he deadpanned.

Making the most of his platform, Deeson waxed philosophical on the state of journalism in America circa 2017, saying the problem wasn’t “fake news” but “frivolous news.”

“We have lost the importance of what matters to people,” he said. “And what matters to people and the reason I love covering government is because city council and county commission and the state Legislature have much more influence on our lives than what is going in the circus in our nation’s capital.”

And Deeson seemed to be taking a dig at his fellow reporters in television news when he said that too many reporters “would rather cover the next important chili recipe that’s on Facebook, instead of the real issue that affect all of our lives and make us a better community.”

The 68-year-old Tampa resident said he’s grown to love the community, and has made a lot of friends over the decades, some of whom work in government. But he said he’s never gone soft on any of them, because “I want to make the place better, and I know what all of you do as well.”

“You’re a pain in the Adam’s apple sometimes, sometimes you’re hard to swallow, but you say the truth” joked Councilman Charlie Miranda, who along with Guido Maniscalco made the original request to honor the newsman.”

“We need strong journalists out there,” agreed Councilman Mike Suarez. “We need reporters like you to correct the story, even when someone else is getting a bad story.”

First on his agenda is finishing up his memoir, tentatively titled, “Bad News For You is Good News For Me.”

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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