Press Talk: Boy, did I need help to make it

By Lou Brancaccio, Columbian Editor

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Lou Brancaccio is The Columbian's editor emeritus. His column of personal opinion appears the first Saturday of every month. Reach him at lounews1@gmail.com.

Humans are herd animals. We’re not smart enough, strong enough or wily enough to make it on our own. Unless you’re The Donald, of course. But I digress.

I make note of this because today I step down (retire) from my role as editor. There is no way I would have made it here for 20 years without help.

Lots of it.

I’ll still write a column the first Saturday of every month, so you haven’t completely gotten rid of me yet.

By the way, we’re having a get-together today here at The Columbian so I can have an opportunity to personally thank the community. It will be from 1 to 3 p.m. at 701 W. Eighth St.

We’ll give away Don’t Do Stupid Stuff mugs to the first 100 people who show up. It also should be noted we won’t be selling them anymore. When we run out of mugs, they’re gone.

But back to my needing help. I needed lots of it. So if you’ll allow me to say a few thanks, I’d appreciate it.

Our newsroom. Pound for pound, there is no collective group of people brighter than a newsroom. Especially when you consider the pay. Please don’t argue with me on this. This is not fake news or alternative facts. This is the real deal. And whatever success an editor might have, it is all owed to the staff.

Scott Campbell. He is the owner and publisher of The Columbian, and he oversees a quality independent newspaper. He is unflinchingly supportive of our newsroom, and that means everything. He has been a joy to work for, and I will miss him more than he could imagine.

Jim Mains. I credit this guy with pushing me deeper into our community.

He’s the estate manager for the late community giant Ed Lynch.

He also carries the title of Strategy Superstar for High Five Media. Oh my!

Without Jim’s initial push, I would have been a lot slower to participate in stuff like Dancing With the Local Stars or as a chef in Soup’s On or serving up Green Eggs and Ham in our schools or getting wet in a dunk tank for Give More 24.

Along the way, I’ve also spoken to dozens of organizations, held Win a Lunch with Lou contests and sung Christmas carols at assisted living homes.

Jim knows just about everybody here, and he opened many doors.

Sharon Wylie. I have a number of both liberal and conservative friends who are elected officials. But many of them get a little antsy if it gets around that I’m talking to or hanging out with them.

Not Sharon. She’s happy to tell me when she thinks I’m wrong and when she thinks I’m right. And she doesn’t duck if someone pulls out a camera when we’re together.

Tim D. Too many people get pigeonholed, hanging out with the usual suspects. I’m guilty of that, as well. So, I often pushed myself to seek out alternative groups. I’ve always enjoyed playing poker, so for a few hours every couple of weeks, I go up to La Center to play.

Over the years, I suspect I’m about even or a little behind, but that’s not the point. I go up to listen to those who don’t move in the same circles I’m often in. I often come away with story or column ideas.

Tim is one of the many players I know up there. He loves cruises, reading The Columbian and watching NASCAR, and he successfully plays the stock market.

And — yes — if I’m in a heads-up pot with Tim, he usually beats me.

Coffee. I’m an equal opportunity coffee guy. And by that, I mean you can find me at Java House, Compass Coffee and Latte Da. But unlike some folks, I don’t shy away from chains, such as Starbucks.

I often frequent the one across from Esther Short Park. They know my name and my drink, and are always smiling.

So thanks, Rhonda, Eddie and the gang for helping to begin my day with a smile.

My critics. I wanted to give a special shout-out to my critics. I’ve got plenty of them. I don’t always agree with them, but it’s important to me to listen to them and respect them. So thank you for being concerned enough to engage with me.

Readers. Of course, none of what I do or what our journalists do is possible without loyal readers. And “loyal” doesn’t mean always agreeing with us. Loyal means — agree or disagree — you stick with us.

Because of increasing options and the economy, print readership is declining across the country. But newspapers and our websites need to continue to play a critical role in our community and our country.

So thank you all for sticking with The Columbian and Press Talk. And I’ll see you again (my column will see you) March 4, the first Saturday next month.