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And Another Thing

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Inskeep: A brief pause to say thanks

The basketball games will wait. So will the football games, the delusional University of Texas fan base, and of course all those good folks out in Boston, who apparently think they're playing a Pop Warner youth football team named the Colts this week, not an actual NFL team.

The Blob has called a halt to all that nonsense. My Blob, my rules.

Instead, here are a few words about a man who put up with me for the past 27 years, no doubt at times against his better judgment.

His name was Richard Inskeep and his family still owns this newspaper, thank God, because that means we remain a two-newspaper town in an era when even one-newspaper towns are becoming an endangered species. Dick Inskeep, the longtime publisher of The Journal Gazette, was the man most responsible for keeping this a two-newspaper town, and for that all of us should remember him today now that he's gone at the age of 89.

It is odd, what you remember at times like these. When I got the news that Dick had died this morning, I immediately flashed on a moment maybe 25 years gone, or at least close to it. It was the day of the Mad Anthonys Hoosier Celebrities golf event, something near and dear to Dick's heart, and three of us were sitting at a table in the clubhouse, waiting for this celeb or that to wander in off the course.

It was longtime JG sportswriter George Honold, my esteemed colleague Steve Warden (then the News Sentinel's lead sport columnist) and me, Steve's JG counterpart. And here came Dick.

"Hello, Steve," he said.

"Hello, George," he said.

And then he moved on.

Oh, God, I'm doomed, I thought.

But, of course, I wasn't. And though my memory has admittedly gotten hazy across all the years, I seem to recall, a few days later, Dick stopping by my desk and apologizing for not acknowledging me that day. I'd joked about it when I got back to the office -- I really did think it was more funny than anything else -- and apparently it got back to him.

I think that moment more than any other confirmed for me what a decent man he was.

Of course, he was more than that. If he leaves a widespread and diverse legacy, maybe the most significant piece of it is that he gifted this town with a diversity of viewpoints; under his guidance, the JG often took editorial positions that put it at odds with a community whose sensibilities tend to veer from conservative to really conservative to really, really conservative.

That cost this newspaper subscribers, no doubt. But it also conferred perspective on a city that, like all cities, badly needed some.

And so Dick stuck it out. What he believed, he once said, was what he believed.

That's called integrity, folks. Sadly, there are an awful lot of alleged journalistic entities out there these days that would have to look up the word to divine its meaning.

As for me, I always laugh when it's suggested that Dick's rabid support for IU athletics, and former basketball coach Bob Knight in particular, influenced what I wrote about both. I've written a lot of words about IU and Knight these past 27 years, not all of them kind. Never was I summoned to Dick's office about any of them.

That, too, is integrity. And one more reason to remember the man today.

Ben Smith's blog.

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