Tragic story — great work on deadline

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Thousands of words have been written in the last 24 hours on the tragic death of Beau Biden, Delaware’s former attorney general and the son of Vice President Joe Biden.

The News Journal, Beau’s hometown paper in Wilmington, Del., did an outstanding job pulling together information from Washington, from friends and associates, and from its own archives in just a few short hours before the presses started to run.

After reading that article, I turned to the Washington Post, and found another example of fine reporting on deadline. It was written by Paul Kane, and I’m proud to say that our paths crossed more than 20 years ago, when I was at The News Journal, editing the Crossroads community news sections, and he was fresh out of the University of Delaware, looking for a full-time job and eager to take as many freelance assignments as I could throw his way.

I was happy to accommodate Paul’s wishes, because he would dig deeply into stories that others might have considered routine and he made a point of asking how he might do a better job on his next assignment. I had a feeling that he had a great future in journalism.

I lost track of Paul for a while, but several years ago began seeing his byline on political and government stories in the Washington Post. After reading a few of these articles, I was certain this was the same Paul Kane who had once worked for me.

I took the time to write to Paul this morning, to salute him for his great work on deadline.

He wrote back later today, and noted that I was his first editor as a professional journalist.

“It was such a joy to hear from you, and it made me so happy to make you proud,” he replied.

Thanks, Paul, for your kind words. I helped you get started, but you made yourself the success that you are today. My wish now is that you — and the other writers I’ve had the good fortune to help over the years — continue to pay it forward … giving the next generation of journalists the encouragement and support that is essential to keeping this great profession alive.

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