Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Press Club honor a thrill for the ages

Bear with me on this one. I always considered it a venal sin to draw attention to yourself, but if I am going to say anything at all about the Press Club of Cleveland’s event held Oct. 12, it is unavoidable.

I was stunned when Rich Osborne, president of Villa Angela-St.Joseph, called to inform me I had been elected to the Press Club’s Hall of Fame. I knew Rich from his days at The Lorain Journal and Ohio Magazine. I thought he might be kidding.

There are some pretty big names in journalism in that Hall of Fame. It is a thrill just to be mentioned in the same breath with Louis B. Seltzer, Hal Lebovitz and people like that. But I certainly wasn’t about to turn down the honor, even though I was afraid they might have me mixed up with someone else.

But then the thing got publicized, and I began getting congratulatory notes from all over. One of the best was from a reader I have never met. Everyone who writes a column should have a reader like Bud Boylan of Lyndhurst. I have quoted his letters before without having met him. His latest I am going to reprint here — just because I want to, even though it borders on being immodest.

“Dear Mr. Collins,” he wrote. “Congratulations! If you weren’t already a celebrity, you are one now.

All celebrities have admirers. And they should cater to those admirers. Your admirers say it is now time for some kind of nostalgia column. Perhaps ‘The Best of the Big Band Era,’ or ‘A Football Game I’ll Always Remember,’ or ‘Sitting Around the Radio for the Sunday Night Programs.’

“With your creative juices flowing, I know you can come up with something.”

That’s a tall order, Bud. I’ll get to work on it.

But let me tell you about that Hall of Fame dinner at the Hilton Garden Inn in Cleveland. If my good buddy, Mark Tyler, the mayor of Kirtland, and the first lady, Sandy, hadn’t picked up me and the lady of the house, we never would have found the place. Mark has one of those talking ladies in his car who tells you when to make your next turn.

The place was mobbed with well-wishers. The Press Club is a big, friendly bunch. And to think I have a vote next year on who gets honored. Amazing!

Five people were inducted into the Hall of Fame (for future reference may I call it the HOF?) and two of them were guys I have known for generations.

One was Ted Diadiun, who worked side by side with me at The News-Herald for many years. He started as a sports writer, became executive editor, and is now the readers’ representative at The Plain Dealer.

Over the years, he wrote about many things besides sports, had a real knack for turning a phrase, and has lost none of those skills that helped shape his career. As a poker player, he is average.

Another HOF honoree was Vern Henry, and I also know him well, not as a compatriot but as a tough competitor as editor of the Painesville Telegraph.

We were in a daily battle for readers in those days, and we both loved the challenge. If you ever got down and dirty in the newspaper business, you know the exhilaration of getting it first and getting it right.

I used to rib Vern for running anonymous letters to the editor from “Mad in Madison” and “Peeved in Perry.” I told him he sat in the office and wrote those letters himself. He denied it, and of course he was right. But it was fun.

Another honoree, Vivian Goodman, made her name in radio, and I met her many times over the years. A very nice person. The other inductee, Stuart Warner, made his mark at The Plain Dealer, and I met him for the first time at the ceremony. His credentials are also rock-solid.

The printed program was a slick piece of work, and each inductee had a profile written by a colleague. Mine was written by News-Herald veteran Janet Podolak, and it almost brought tears to my eyes. Almost.

I don’t know where she found out all that stuff about me, but a little more and I might start taking myself seriously.

The News-Herald and Lakeland Community College each brought a table of party goers. That not only pleased me immensely, but there were four past or current publishers of the paper there — Joe Cocozzo, Rick Stenger, Steve Roszczyk and Jeff Sudbrook. I was truly honored.

One more thing: Mark Tyler and Jeff Sudbrook are both Lakeland graduates, and I had the extreme pleasure of inducting both of them into the Lakeland HOF. That’s one of the most pleasant aspect of my duties at the college — inducting honorees into the HOF.

And one more: During my turn at the mike, I told the Press Club not to wait too long to induct Tricia Ambrose and Laura Kessel of The News-Herald into the HOF. I want to be there for the occasion, and I’m not getting any younger.


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