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Nose for news

Career journalist, information officer continues his calling at Riderwood

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March 8th, 2017
Retired reporter, editor, and State Department information officer Jim Feldman started a resident-run publication called Riderwood Reporter at the Erickson Living community where he lives.

Retired reporter, editor, and State Department information officer Jim Feldman started a resident-run publication called Riderwood Reporter at the Erickson Living community where he lives.

Plenty of retirement communities have resident newsletters. But how many can boast that their in-house publications were founded by an accomplished newspaper reporter, editor, and information officer for the U.S. Department of State? That is the case at Riderwood, where Jim Feldman, a retired journalist, started the community’s resident newsletter back in 2004. 

Life as a journalist

Jim has had a keen interest in newspapers since he was a young boy growing up in Chicago. He decorated his boyhood bedroom with newspapers from different cities, and at ten, he offered to write a column for his neighborhood newspaper about what neighbors were doing. Thus began his successful career as a journalist. 

After graduating from high school and completing his military service, Jim attended the University of Illinois and earned a degree in journalism. His first job out of college was at the Chicago Bureau of United Press International, an international newswire service. Next, he went to work for the Des Moines Register in Iowa, where he covered county politics and the courts. 

“They sent me all over the state covering murder trials,” Jim says. “It was challenging, and I enjoyed it a lot.”

Jim and his wife married in 1950, and they had their first child while living in Des Moines. Later, the growing Feldman family moved to Ohio, where Jim worked at the Cincinnati Post covering the labor beat. 

Jim had always had an interest in working overseas, so when he met some people from the State Department who were recruiting information officers, he jumped at the opportunity. He was offered a post in Bombay (now Mumbai), India.

“We packed up and went to Bombay, and it was a wonderful experience,” Jim says. “We were there for seven years, and the kids were in school. I was dealing with the press and reporters from all over the world.”

After a few years in Bombay, the Feldmans went to Delhi, India, and Jim worked as the editor of a U.S. Embassy publication called The American Reporter

After a stint back in Washington, D.C., Jim was transferred to Brussels, where he worked as an information officer and press attaché. In that post, he had the opportunity to meet many big names in politics, including former President Jimmy Carter, who was governor of Georgia at the time. 

One day on the job that stands out for Jim is when he was tasked with organizing a last-minute news conference for Henry Kissinger in a hotel lobby. As it turns out, Jim also made a lasting impression on the former Secretary of State. 

“Some time after that, I went to Switzerland for the first Arab-Israeli conference,” Jim recalls. “Kissinger was there, and he looked at me and said, ‘Didn’t I see you in Brussels?’”

Jim’s final foreign post was in Indonesia. He retired in 1983 and then returned to Maryland to work part-time declassifying documents for the State Department. 

“It’s been a very interesting life,” Jim says. “I’ve had a lot of fun in my life.”

Natural next step

With several decades of experience providing information to the public under his belt, starting a publication at Riderwood seemed like a natural next step for Jim when he moved to the Silver Spring, Md., Erickson Living community. 

He was elected to the Resident Advisory Council (RAC) and started The RAC Bulletin to update residents on the happenings of this important committee. 

In 2008, Jim and another community member teamed up to start a more comprehensive publication that provides information updates as well as profiles of residents and clubs and other interesting community news. 

That informative and impressive-looking periodical, Riderwood Reporter, has been in publication for 16 years. Jim served as the editor for many years but has now passed the baton to some of his neighbors, while he has stayed on as a columnist. 

“Riderwood is really a great place to be,” Jim says. “Everything is pretty well taken care of for us.”

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