23 years and 2000 pages

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This is the 2 nd column that I am writing for this journal. I have enjoyed communicating this way for the past 23 years.

I was hired in 1998 by publisher Michael Lee and publisher Tom Martin. At the last report, Lee was retired and living in Florida, and Martin is the regional editor of Gannett as well as the editor of the Galesburg Register-Mail.

I had been the Macomb correspondent of the Peoria Journal Star for 10 years. Martin wanted me to be the municipal correspondent for the Macomb Journal, and he and Lee offered me the opportunity to write a weekly column.

A fan of Chicago columnists Bob Greene and Mike Royko, I accepted this as a chance to grow up in a somewhat different type of writing than news reporting. I was happy with my first efforts until a professor at Western Illinois University wrote me a note saying, “Don’t give up your daily job.

But I got better. I eventually won first prize from a small town newspaper in the Illinois Associated Press.

My column started on Thursday. The Friday column was written by a WIU instructor who tried to adopt a humorous style. The column was on the opposite page of the church’s weekly news, and its writing offended some of those readers. I was asked to change days with him and my column ran on Fridays for 23 years, until the Friday editorial page was canceled last month.

When Stacey Creasy took over as editor of the Journal, he asked each journalist to write a column. This gave the newspaper five local columns each week.

But most reporters got excited over ideas and initiatives after one or two columns. Stacey started writing two columns a week and I told her I would write two too. That was the start of the Tuesday column, which continues to appear weekly. A commemorative photo of Stacey Creasy appears in this year’s program for Colchester’s Labor Day celebration.

Some of my columns have upset people. I regret it but I stand by my opinions. Many of my columns have comforted people. They wrote to me and I have kept their letters. I have tried to provide a historical local memento from notable residents upon their deaths. I enjoyed hearing from their families.

This Saturday column is the result of the disappearance of the Friday editorial page. I’m trying to make the Tuesday and Saturday columns somewhat different. The Tuesday column will usually give a glimpse of a serious problem. On Saturday, I’ll try a lighter tone and look at topics of entertainment or nostalgia.

In addition to sharing their personal thoughts with me, some readers have asked questions. I tried to find answers for them. Sometimes their questions generate a column.

At my age, I doubt there are still 2,000 columns. But I’ll keep plugging in as long as people are interested. Thanks for being a reader.

Contact Patrick Stout by email at [email protected]

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