My friends, colleagues, anyone who has ever visited my office at either Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive or at Greenspun Interactive, and those who have heard me speak at conferences, and even casual acquaintances, usually figure out that I love William Allen White.
I probably mention his name and his work in way too many of the conversations I have about journalism. But I can’t help it because I think we still can learn from him.
White was the Pulitzer Prize-winning editor of The Emporia Gazette. He was not only an amazingly in-touch journalist, he was a visionary who fully grasped the many different roles that newspapers played in people’s lives.
More importantly, he understood that the way people are informed would be ever-evolving.
Almost two years ago, I posted a blog about a seriously kick-ass quote that is probably more relevant and impactful now than when William Allen White originally wrote it more than 75 years ago. Everyone in the newspaper business should read it right now, if they haven’t already.
That quote was sent to me by Roger Heineken. Roger is a fellow Emporia Stater like me, only he’s forgotten more about William Allen White than I know. I love getting notes from Roger for that very reason.
This morning Roger sent me another quote from White that seems like it could have been said today. Roger sent me a note on Facebook this morning to tell me Chris Matthews quoted White this morning on “The Chris Matthews Show.”
Here’s the quote:
“The most precious gift God has given to this land is not its riches of soil and forest and land, but the divine dissatisfaction planted deeply in the hearts of the American people.”
— William Allen White
Like I said, he just as well could have said that this very week.