The fever pitch of executions in Texas since the 1980s has made the taking of a life at Huntsville’s prison almost de rigueur. Newsrooms that used to send a reporter every time an inmate was put to death now rely on the AP—and one AP writer in particular: Michael Graczyk. Texas says he has witnessed more deaths than any prison official; he is perhaps more exposed to executions than any other American, the New York Times notes.
“There are times when I’m the only person present who doesn’t have a stake in the outcome,” Graczyk says. He usually watches from the viewing room reserved for the victim’s family, “because I can get out faster and file the story faster.” Papers near and far in Texas are grateful for the service. “We know we can depend on the AP, so I can send my reporters to something else,” one editor says. That doesn’t make Graczyk’s job easier.