AP's Dan Sewell Honored In Congressional Record
He's the finest Cincinnati journalist that you've never heard of.
Dan Sewell, the Associated Press Cincinnati-based correspondent, has been honored by Sen. Sherrod Brown in advance of his retirement Wednesday, June 30, with a tribute in the Congressional Record.
Full disclosure here: I've known Dan Sewell for nearly 50 years, and he's a close friend. But over the years I've written many tributes about retiring or departing TV anchors and reporters – some of them which I considered good friends – and I believe that Sewell is probably a notch above all those journalists. He's just not as well known.
Sewell retires after a 44-year career, including 39 years with the AP wire service. He also did two stints at the Cincinnati Enquirer, including being the suburban editor supervising the 10-person Butler-Warren bureau (which doesn't exist anymore).
As the Cincinnati correspondent, his stories informed the worldwide Associated Press audience of major breaking news, such as the mass shooting at the Fountain Square Fifth Third Tower in 2018 and the Dayton's Oregon District mass shooting and tornado both in 2019.
Sewell, a 1973 graduate of Trenton's Edgewood High School in Butler County and 1977 graduate of Ohio University, also covered the Kroger Co., Procter & Gamble and other Cincinnati-based institutions for the international wire service. As the Enquirer news staff dwindled, Sewell was the only Cincinnati journalist who routinely covered the federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in downtown Cincinnati, reporting on decisions about same-sex marriage and the Affordable Care Act.
Two weeks after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Sewell and Beth Finley reported that Jessica Watkins and Donovan Crowl from Champaign County, members of the extremist Oath Keepers militarist group, were the first to be arrested on conspiracy charges related to the siege. They were accused, along with a Virginia man, of helping to plan and coordinate the Jan. 6 attack.
Sewell and reporter Farnoush Amiri followed up with another story about how the arrests shocked the small town of Woodstock, Ohio, 40 miles northwest of Columbus, where Watkins, an Army veteran, recruited members for a local militia group while tending bar at the Jolly Roger Bar and Grill.
I met Dan when he was at Edgewood and participating in the Middletown Journal's weekly "The Page" program for high school journalists a couple years after I had. We each did a summer internships at the Journal while attending Ohio University, where he was a writer on my staff at The Post, the independent student newspaper (along with WVXU's Howard Wilkinson). Sewell was The Post editor in 1976-77, two years after me.
Sewell grew up near Jacksonburg, the tiny crossroads community in Wayne Township west of Middletown. He knew some school employees who died in the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire, so he wrote stories about the Beverly Hills fire before he started his AP career in June 1977. It was the first of many disasters he would cover while working for the AP in Miami, San Juan, Atlanta, Chicago, Buffalo and Cincinnati.
In nearly four decades at AP, he covered the Mariel boatlift (a mass exodus of Cubans to the US in 1980); the Grenada invasion (1983); William Kennedy Smith rape trial (1991); Hurricane Andrew (1992); the Oklahoma City bombing (1995); Midwest floods (1997); and Hurricane Katrina (2005). ). He also covered the murder trial of serial killer Ted Bundy and interviewed Bundy in jail after his conviction (1979). He started with the AP as a sportswriter covering O.J. Simpson's Buffalo Bills and later Don Shula's Miami Dolphins.
"Journalists like Dan play a vital role in our democracy – they ask tough questions, they challenge special interests and uncover corruption, and they connect Americans with their communities and with the world," said Brown, who was interviewed by Sewell for The Post when Brown was the youngest member of the Ohio legislature in the mid 1970s.
"Whether it was the Grenada Invasion in 1983, Hurricane Andrew in 1992, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, or the mass shooting in Dayton's Oregon District in 2019, Dan has done vital work on the frontlines, covering stories that matter to people," Brown said.
Sewell also has mentored many young journalists along the way – at the AP, the Enquirer and Miami University, where he taught news writing.
"On behalf of grateful readers in Ohio and around the country," Brown said, "I thank Dan Sewell for nearly four decades of service in journalism, doing work that is important to the fabric of our communities and our country."
I couldn't have said it better.