Sharon Cohen, well-honored AP nationwide author, died on the age of 68, Illinois Information
“Sharon’s genius was capturing the stories of Americans as they witnessed the intense change and disruption over the past 40 years. They struggled when their city’s factory closed, tried to break away from drugs or violence, and were confused when they came back from the war. ” said Sally Buzbee, senior vice president and executive editor of the AP.
“Her stories often made me cry. They always opened our heads. As a reporter and writer, she was a dream – both extremely precise and persistent and also extremely compassionate.”
Cohen was an idea machine who was never comfortable unless she had a story to work on, another on deck, and others in line. In the days before the Internet, when she was a regional reporter for the Midwest, Cohen subscribed to a number of small newspapers. She was always looking for the three paragraph letter on page 38 that could turn into something special.
She did far more research than ever before and filled filing cabinets throughout the Chicago office.
“You know the iceberg principle of writing, where most of the writer’s research and knowledge lies beneath the surface?” said former AP editor John Dowling, a longtime friend and colleague. “The bottom of Sharon’s iceberg was more like an ice shelf in Antarctica.”
She wrote almost every type of story she could think of in the course of her career, but patterns emerged. She wrote true crime stories – a ring in which babies smuggled drugs, for example – but also larger pieces about women imprisoned for opioids, about teenagers in prison, about the failure to investigate the disappearance of Native American women.