As I write this editorial, my mentor and friend, Mark Maley, is fighting for his life.
If he were still my editor, he would likely call me on the phone and tell me to go focus on the election stories and not write a silly editorial about him. But I can’t focus on anything else right now. So I’ll write this editorial instead. I was and still am horrible at following directions. He knows this about me.
Mark and I have known each other for more than 15 years. I worked for him at CNI Newspapers and at Patch, which was owned by America Online at the time. He has been my best critic, both on and off-paper. He encouraged me to take risks, write better copy, and challenged me to use all of the best practices of journalism to serve my readers.
Now, he lays in a bed in pain from cancer at a hospice center. A week and a half ago, he reached out to my former colleagues and me from Patch to let us know that he had three to six months to live. His main worry: How his family will cope without him. That’s Maley, thinking of others. He is fiercely loyal, always.
Today, his wife Debbie announced that he was taken to Hospice and he has less than a month to live.
So forgive me, Maley, while I ditch elections stories today. I know you would want me to write them. But, honestly I just need to get these feels out, then I can go get those election stories done.
I am grateful that you are my mentor. When starting this news website, I knew you would edit my stories. You helped me stay anchored in the work of doing good journalism. And I will always be grateful for your support.
Over the years, I learned the secret to doing good journalism is seeking out the opposition to an existing narrative, having the courage to back up that narrative with primary documentation and facts, and having reliable sources. It’s not easy work. You have to have thick skin and focus on the reader, always.
A few storylines that we got to cover with integrity: Act 10, the recall elections, the Sikh Temple shooting, the bluff collapse in Oak Creek, the presidential primaries and so many more. When we wrote those stories, people would often take issue with the messenger when those stories didn’t fit their narrative. But you had our back Maley, always.
Even when you became the director of communications for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, you kept a close watch over my site. We talked about how other news sources didn’t really understand the mechanism of a tax incremental finance district (news nerds know what I mean) as it relates to Foxconn and other development projects.
To my readers:
I wish you knew Maley. His laugh. His stories. His integrity. Even a few weeks ago, he sent me links to some grants and shared some of my work.
Everyone should have a “Maley” in their lives. He is painfully honest, but not in a “gotcha” kind of way. He loves truth. He loves the work of getting to the truth. He loves helping his readers understand the value of truth. That’s what he gave me… the gift of the addiction to truthtelling.
So keep fighting my friend. Know that your teachings were not wasted… Now, on to those election stories.