Farewell from Bob Deans, White House correspondent for Cox Newspapers:
Friends, colleagues and selected rivals,
I started out in the news business when I was ten years old, delivering my hometown paper, the Richmond Times-Dispatch. I got a lot of ink on my fingers. I got bitten by a few dogs. But I fell in love with newspapers, one story at a time, scanning the headlines by the fleeting headlights of a passing milk truck or the amber glow of a coming dawn.
I still remember a few of them. King Shot in Memphis. Kissinger
Vows Peace. Man Walks on Moon.
In my paperboy’s mind, it might as well not have happened at all
without the newspaper to say so, to explain it, to sort through the
rumor and riddle and lies, to tell it straight, lay it out, give it a headline and assign it a place on a six-column page that conferred legitimacy and denoted importance; to take a world spinning and careening through space and time and decide what piece of the story had to be told, and how best to tell it, in a way that might open discussion or end debate by setting in place the bedrock clarity upon which the weight of the very republic might rest.
It was more than a daily newspaper to me, it was a daily miracle,
the north star of civic discourse in good times and bad, the cultural totem pole we touched each day to remind us we were all on the same page, reading the same black inky word etched forever in newsprint. And the word became news at the unerring hands of reporters, remote and almost delphic figures with the alchemist’s gift of rending order from chaos. They were all I had any right to expect from the minor gods of my schoolboy pantheon – omniscient, self-directed and utterly remote. I wanted to be one of those guys.
For nearly thirty years I’ve had that high privilege. It’s taken
me across this country and sixty-one others. It has put me in the company of killers and kings – and that’s just those of you I’ve competed against. It has been, in short, one heck of a ride.
On Friday it ends, when Cox closes its Washington newspaper
bureau. Goodbye to all that. Things fall apart. Sayonara catfish.
Like a few of you, I’m not sure just where I’m headed from here.
I’m not much looking to reinvent myself, redefine my skill set, reform or retool. I will, instead, regroup and move on. I still have – thank God – four other people who depend on me to make a living. Three decades of journalism has taught me how to do a few things well. And many of you have reached out already with encouragement and tips, giving me the curious and not all together familiar feeling that somehow I’ll land on my feet.
Looking back over the years, I think fondly of the times I’ve had
with friends like you, witnessing triumph and folly both great and
small, scrambling on deadline and working together to tell the tale. We were neither unerring nor delphic, as it turns out, but we’ve been able to look history in the eye and call it as we see it. Every now and then, we got it about right.
I’ll miss journalism more than it will miss me. I’ll also miss
working with you. Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for your help. Thanks for standing by me and bailing me out when I was in a jam – sometime between five and seven most evenings, as I recall.
And to those of you still bearing the torch, still working hard each day to tell the truth as you see it for the rest of us, special thanks for all you do to help keep our democracy awake and alive. I’ll look for your byline. I’ll read what you write. And, every now and then, when you get it about right, I’ll think of our times together and smile.