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Archive for August 25th, 2012

My first job in the news business was as a paperboy (I don’t remember any girls or adults carrying papers then) for the Columbus Citizen-Journal from 1968 to 1970. As I dreamed of someday being one of those journalists telling those historic stories on the front page each day, Neil Armstrong was my biggest story.

It was a newsy time with lots of stories about Vietnam, civil rights, LBJ, Richard Nixon, political conventions and the USS Pueblo. But Neil Armstrong’s historic walk on the moon with Buzz Aldrin was the story that riveted my attention. (I started carrying the paper after the two assassinations of 1968: Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy.)

Space exploration was the continuing story of my childhood: Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and U.S. astronaut Alan Shepard being the first to fly in 1961, John Glenn orbiting the earth Friendship 7 in 1962, Ed White making the first  space walk in 1965, the fire that killed White, Gus Grissom and Roger Chafee in 1967, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders reading from Genesis aboard Apollo 8 on Christmas Eve 1968 as they circled the moon. I watched them with fascination on TV and read about them in the newspaper.

Once I got my paper route, I would read the paper at about 4:30 a.m., before I hopped on my bike to deliver the papers. If a space flight was approaching or under way, that would be the first story I would read. (more…)

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Cartoon by Carmen Cerra, used with permission

Barbara Mack

I wish every news organization had a lawyer like Barbara Mack. But there was only one of her. And we lost her Thursday.

I was privileged to be an editor and reporter for the Des Moines Register when Barb, a former Register reporter, was the cornerstone of our legal team.

We had an in-house legal team, which was rare, even then. As I recall, we had up to five lawyers at a time on our in-house law firm. Gary Gerlach headed the team before he became publisher. Mike Giudicessi, Joe Thornton and Marcia Cranberg were among our lawyers. And I’m trying to remember others (help me out, Register colleagues). I enjoyed working with all of them, but Barb was the most memorable.

Everywhere else I’ve worked, you called a lawyer as a last resort. I’ve worked with in-house lawyers who were timid and looked at their jobs as keeping us from getting sued. I’ve worked with outside counsel we called as a last resort and the meter was always running and their job was to keep us from getting sued. Barb and her colleagues were always eager for a legal battle to pry some public information from officials who didn’t respect freedom-of-information laws. She didn’t fear lawsuits and helped us make sure our stories would stand up in court. She loved a fight and I can’t remember one she lost.

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