Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Newspaper's Losses

In the last week, three veteran news people left the Spokesman Review, our local newspaper. I am shocked. They were three heavyweights and significant in my world.

Dan Webster was the lit guy for the paper and my go-to guy for the baseball novel. He wrote a great article on the book when it first came out and was diligent and kind about posting my book signing events and whatever else I was up to. I had this vision that I would call him when a movie on the story was in the works. "Hey Dan, want a scoop?" Alas, this will not now happen since there is not yet a movie set up and since last Sunday was his last day. A part of my dream for the baseball guys' story - of how something would happen, anyway - has died.

Bill Morlin was a legal beat reporter, usually covering federal courthouse stories (the courthouse where I practice law most). The first time I spoke to Bill was in 1994, when I gave him an earful about publishing an article during a trial I was doing. I was worried it would taint the jury. I'd been in Spokane two months. I was completely - mostly completely - in the wrong. Still, hell hath no fury like a trial lawyer who... well, you get my point. Bill handled my tirade pretty well. There was no conviction in the end. After that, I watched his work. I was always impressed. He was careful, thorough, cared about kids... All of it. I watched him "get" the story - understand the nuances - of any article he wrote about my cases. What a loss to Spokane, not to have him anymore.

Karen Dorn Steele I didn't really know personally, but she also had an amazing news ability and talent from what I knew of her articles, which consistently were thorough and smart.

All of it - sad, sad, sad. One, two, three. Look at what we've lost. Steve Smith, former editor, left last fall when I was gone (volunteering for Obama). Another big loss, in my opinion. At the time, I've found out, he said he left because he was losing too many good writers. What in the world woulld he do today?

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