| To profile Montana Sen. Jon Tester, Post reporter Ben Terris spent three days with him on his farm, including 10 hours crammed into a tractor cab with the nearly 300-pound lawmaker. “It did not really fit two people,” Terris says, “and I had a giant bruise on my right leg to prove it.” But the memorable story he produced about a rural Democrat fighting for his political life was definitely worth the injury. Terris had great access to Tester, which made it easier for him to create a vivid portrait.
In contrast, Post reporter Ian Shapira never met or interviewed the subject of his story, Mark W. Levin, a former administrator at a national security graduate school. Levin is accused in a lawsuit of inventing a clandestine career to manipulate young men at two different Washington graduate schools into sexually abusive encounters. Shapira combed through court documents and interviewed two dozen people to learn as much as he could about Levin and how he persuaded his alleged victims and the ex-spies around him that he was, as he told one co-worker, “a trained assassin” who’d killed 38 people. You won’t want to miss these fascinating stories or the others in this week’s newsletter. — Lynda Robinson, Local Enterprise Editor