Veteran Detroit News reporter 'a marvel' in field, newsroom
Throughout an automotive journalism career that sent her around the world to cover some of the industry’s most high-profile stories and connect with its top-tier talent, Christine Tierney impressed contemporaries with her intelligence and integrity.
“Everybody in the industry — her competitors, her colleagues, the automakers — held her in such high regard because she was just a great reporter who treated everybody fairly,” said Dave Shepardson, a former Detroit News Washington bureau chief. “She really liked to dig into the big, complex issues. It was always remarkable just the number of people she knew on top of being just so curious about every part of the industry.”
Miss Tierney, a longtime journalist and former Detroit News reporter, died Monday, June 18, 2018, after battling severe Parkinson's disease for several years, relatives andassociates said. She was 60.
For years her work spanned the globe.
From 1987 to 2000, Miss Tierney was a correspondent with Reuters, where she covered political and financial news for the agency’s bureaus in New York, Montreal, Mexico City, Paris and Frankfurt, Germany, according to her LinkedIn page.
She later joined Business Week, becoming a reporter based in Germany and Detroit.
Whether rushing to press conferences or attending major events, colleagues recall Miss Tierney’s kindness and wry sense of humor.
“She had a tremendous heart,” said Scott Miller, a former Reuters correspondent who also reported for the Wall Street Journal. “She was always supportive and even when we were at competing publications … there was never any sort of bitter rivalry. It was all very collegial and supportive.”
In 2003, Miss Tierney joined The News. She focused on Japanese and European automakers, as well as domestic industry stories; traveled to China and Russia; and moved to The News’ Washington bureau, reporting on policies and legislation affecting Michigan.
Accolades included sharing a 2010 Gerald Loeb Award, the highest honor in business journalism, for coverage of key events leading to the General Motors and Chrysler bankruptcies.
“Christine was a superb reporter during her tenure with The News, an unerring journalist with a keen global view of the Big Three and its international competition,” said Publisher and Editor Jonathan Wolman. “Her coverage was always sure-handed and she had a great knack for sharing her perspective with readers and colleagues.”
Throughout her tenure, Miss Tierney was known for her extra effort: interviewing foreign sources in their native language, staying late in the newsroom to fine-tune coverage, routinely revising articles to ensure accuracy.
“As a reporter, she was a marvel,” said Mark Truby, The News’ former business editor who now is vice president of communications for Ford Motor Co. “She was scrupulous about being fair. She was extremely professional and absolutely stellar on deadline. She knew the industry from a global perspective. Her reporting was often ground-breaking because she was just so thorough. She really got to the bottom of the truth of issues.”
Miss Tierney's quest for knowledge began early.
Born May 12, 1958, in Tehran, Iran, she spent years living abroad as her father William Tierney worked with the United States Agency for International Development, relatives said.
She became fluent in multiple languages and was adept enough in history to name some of her pets after monarchs whom she admired, younger sister Alice Tierney Witt said.
Over the years, Miss Tierney, who attended the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and earned a master’s degree in journalism from American University, loved tending animals, including a rescued cat that accompanied her overseas, relatives said.
She also had a knack for helping strangers in need, said another sister, Martha Tierney. "She was a very big-hearted person."
When not on the clock, Miss Tierney wowed her loved ones with dishes she learned to hone in the countries she lived in, Witt said. "Some of my best recipes come from her. Anywhere she lived, she absorbed it."
After leaving The News in 2013, she briefly worked for the Wall Street Journal in Germany, covering the nation’s car and truck makers, according to the website. She also was a contributor for Forbes.
Despite declining health in recent years, Miss Tierney outlived several dire prognoses, a testament to what Witt described as her ethos: "No rules, no limits, no fear of challenge."
Other survivors include her mother, Elly. She was predeceased by her father and a sister, Elizabeth.
A memorial service was held last week in Washington.