CHICAGO (WLS) --Friday is a bittersweet day for ABC7 Eyewitness News. After more than 25 years at the station, Friday will be political reporter Charles Thomas' last day before retirement.
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner surprised Thomas with a special proclamation in the newsroom late Friday morning. Friday is officially Charles Thomas Day in the state of Illinois.
Thomas has had an incredible career. He spoke with Ravi Baichwal and Tanja Babich on ABC7 News This Morning about what he'll miss most.
"In the last 48 hours, it really started to hit me that I won't be coming to this building every day. That I won't be coming to this neighborhood, State and Lake. I won't be seeing these people. We talk, all the time, in the newsroom. It's a constant back and forth. People are asking me questions, I'm asking them questions. We're arguing, we're loving. But that's what makes this place so special, because we have such a free flow of ideas all the time. I'm really going to miss that, quite a bit. I think that's what's going to stand out most. The fact that I have, at my fingertips, this incredible wealth of information, because we have so much information coming into this newsroom. I'm not going to have that anymore," Thomas said.
He also said the stories that stood out most to him over the course of his career were the stories where a small piece of information led to a revelation.
"To me, the stories that stand out are the ones that, where you go someplace and you see that there's really not much there and you can take that little nugget and make it into a great story. Those are the stories that reporters remember. Anybody can cover a fire or an impeachment because it's right there in your face. It's those subtle stories, when you find that person. Wow, look at that story. I have that one. You personalize it, and that's the story that you really remember. Because it's real," Thomas said.
Thomas said after his last day at ABC7, he plans to focus on changing the narrative for the African American community in the Chicago area. He is not retiring, but re-firing.
"Right now, we do a lot of stories about shootings and murders and such. We talk about the South and West sides of Chicago, which is a euphemism for the black community. I'm going to begin working to change that narrative to show some of the great things that are happening for African Americans in this region, in this state. That's a mission for me moving forward. I have some fuel left in the tank, and I'm going to use it for that," Thomas said.