Blogs » Your Advocate: an editor's blog » How do you best honor a legacy?

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When I was a cub reporter of only 22 in Colorado Springs, I worked with a larger-than-life assistant city editor whose voice and laughter bounced around the newsroom's walls.

I was still learning the trade, but Jim Bishop, who went on to become city editor and deputy managing editor at the Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph, had mastered it already. He went on to edit a feature project that won the Pulitzer Prize, journalism's top honor.

The reporter on that project, Dave Curtin, said this of Bishop in his obituary: “There are some editors you want to work hard for, just because of who they are. Jim was a stand-up guy and an inspirational editor who always stood behind his reporters. He was a hero to all of us because of the way he treated us.”

Of course, many in the Crossroads know Bishop because he served as managing editor and then executive editor of the Victoria Advocate from 1990-2005. When I arrived as editor of the Advocate in April 2007, I was surprised and delighted to reconnect with my old mentor.

Bishop had semi-retired by then, but he still wrote beautiful columns and editorials for the Advocate. I sought him out for counsel about my new job, and he was ready, as always, with a quick smile and reassuring words. He never once offered anything approaching even a hint of criticism, even though he surely had to sigh sometimes at the poorly turned phrase or outright mistakes he saw in the newspaper he formerly steered so well.

I saw Bishop less frequently as his health deteriorated. While attending his memorial service Friday at Rosewood Chapel, I thought about the legacy he and those before him have left during the Advocate's 167 years. How can any one person possibly measure up?

The answer, of course, is no one can. A newspaper is like an octopus with tentacles that spread in every direction every day while reaching back into a past long forgotten and stretching toward a future as murky as the depths of the sea. An editor tries to direct these tentacles, but it's a struggle none will ever proclaim he's won. You rise each morning peering at the ink stains while offering a silent prayer that no previously unseen horror managed to slip onto the page.

An old editor is at rest now, finally free of deadlines. His legacy lives on in the lives of the thousands he touched.