What’s it like mentoring a cub reporter? Jack Howey knew. Jack mentored me during my three-year stint as a police and city hall reporter at the Peru, Indiana, Daily Tribune in the 1970s. Jack was managing editor and hired me even though I had a scant two and a half years on a weekly newspaper under my belt.
Jack was kind but tough, idealistic but fair, highly principled and the dean of managing editors in the Hoosier state during his prime.
Jack never raised his voice to us reporters, but he was steadfast about good journalism: Be impartial, don’t give favors, don’t back down even if the subject of the story is hinting or threatening that lawsuit is in the offing. In journalism, truth is your best defense.
His firm belief was three-fold: 1. Be accurate 2. Be on time (don’t miss a deadline) 3. Be fair.
Fairness and balance ran through his blood. He knew from decades in journalism there were not just two sides to a story, but sometimes multiple sides – never black-and-white, always a shade of gray. So, at deadline, we reporters often found ourselves waiting for the final phone call from the side of the story that had not yet weighed in.
Accuracy was something that went to the heart of our AP Stylebook, covering such things as spelling and proper usage of words and phrases. Our proofreader would most often catch our miscues before they were printed, but we on the front line were expected to be meticulous about that. Just the facts, ma’am!
Sorry to say I failed to stay in touch with him through the years, and he passed away in 2019 before I could write this tribute and send it to him in person. This cub reporter misses him very much.
© Ron Cooper 2020
Ron Cooper was a newspaper journalist for 25 years, followed by two decades as a freelance writer and book editor. He is the author of three books, the latest, “A Grateful Survivor,” about his cancer journey. He blogs at RonCooperAuthor.com. Ron lives in Louisville, Ky., with his wife Tanya.