Friday, June 27, 2014

Gratitude: The Jim Lindsey Battles

Ex-Business Journal GM John Montgomery with Jim Lindsey and me.
Today I am grateful for:

Jim Lindsey, the former publisher of the Blue Ridge Business Journal and one of the finest and most intelligent and generous people I've ever known.

Jim and I were at each other's throats for several years about how to put the publication together, what stories to write, how to write them, how to photograph them, how to design the pages, how to proofread, when to do the work, whom to interview, how strict we needed to be in separation of news/advertising. Jim nitpicked it to death, slaved over it, sweated blood, taught me a lot about fairness, accuracy and going the extra 43 miles to get it exactly right.

He was responsible for the final one percent of putting out the product* and nearly drove me crazy with it, but he made the publication what it was: excellent. I had a sign on my door of Clint Eastwood pointing a gun directly in the face of the person looking at it with the legend saying, "Go Ahead, Make One More Change." Jim knew who that was for.

We argued and fought and cussed and spit, but never, ever, ever held those battles past the point of making a decision and going ahead. The publication was better for the conflict and the readers benefitted with a magazine they could read because it was informative and entertaining. Not many newsrooms at any level allow that kind of creative conflict these days, preferring the inverted pyramid power structure because of a level of job insecurity that has become common and self-defeating.

I was an employee at the Business Journal and Jim was the sole (I first typed "soul owner," which may have been more appropriate) owner, but when he sold to The Roanoke Times, he cut me in on the profit, something he didn't have to do. That gift permanently got me out of debt and for that I am also grateful.

The greatest gift, though, is that Jim Lindsey is my friend. Not much better than that could possibly have come from our relationship or any relationship between two flawed human beings.

* That's not all he was responsible for, but when I finished with editorial and he started making adjustments, the magazine was about 99 percent done.

(Photo: Christina Koomen at the 2010 Virginia Communications Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Richmond.)

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