Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Barb Page: An Editor Who Did It For Love

She never had the title or a corner office.

She wouldn't have wanted one.

But Barb Page was an editor who had what matters most: the respect and love of her colleagues.

We lost Barb Wednesday morning in Albuquerque, N.M., where I met her for the first time some 27 years ago. Journalism didn't just lose a great editor, it lost a teacher whose love of the craft inspired those around her.

She was the afternoon city editor at The Albuquerque Tribune, a scrappy afternoon newspaper. I was a new reporter, fresh out of Northwestern, hungry to tell stories.

Most of them came back to me pulled apart and filled with "notes," questions and suggestions from Barb that made me wonder, "Why didn't I think of that?" Over time, her voice — and laugh — were planted in my brain.

I was one of the lucky ones. At the start of my career, I had met someone who could help show me the way.

We started as colleagues. But we soon became friends, as was the case for so many who worked with Barb.

In the days since she decided to end dialysis and accept the consequences, I've read similar stories on Facebook from countless people I've never met, stories of affection for someone who had changed their lives.

Barb was in the E.W. Scripps Co.'s Hall of Fame for her headline writing. When she wrote what may have been her most famous, I was on my first day as city editor, in charge of the story of a helicopter prison escape from the penitentiary in Santa Fe.

"Chopper woman: I did it for love."

Barb got to the point. She cut to the quick, with a dash of wit.

That's a reminder for all of us still doing the work.

Now she's gone. But she hasn't left me.

Today, as I edit side by side with another generation of reporters, I think of her.

And I know this to be true: She did it for love.