I am a journalism snob. It isn’t about my master’s in journalism. Nor do I believe my writing is superior to others. I’ve seen it done well, and I will accept nothing less.
Friday marks the close of Mikel Kelly’s fulltime newspaper gig. He’s been a reporter, editor, chief of design and mentor. His column will continue into his retirement, but a golden age of journalism is over.
There were a few Camelot years in Klamath Falls, with Mikel as managing editor, Martin Forbes as city editor, Mike Quigley in sports, Dave Christy serving the agriculture community, Janie Nafsinger providing features and education coverage, and Jim Clark capturing it all with his camera. They were all very good at their jobs, and each had a hand in providing news for the community.
All but Quigley and Christy would find themselves serving the communities in and around Portland at the end of their fulltime careers.
Journalism is noble work, when it’s performed with the reader in mind. Grand thoughts and powerful images permeate the experience. Even in coverage of a tragedy, the reader is better for having read the story.
Today’s celebrity-centric society does not reflect stories of true news value. To borrow a phrase from my plantation predecessors, “What does that have to do with the price of cotton?”
I warmed to Mikel in my senior year of high school. He wrote a column about getting flipped off in Portland traffic. The gesture he described as a universal symbol for not approving of the way you drive. It was humorous, and I was sold.
It would be my junior year of college before I met him in person, and he hasn’t been able to shake me for 26 years. His wife is tolerant of me, and I’ve been able to observe two of the finest people I know in times of joy and crisis.
Being together in retirement will hopefully be a time of joy. Mikel will continue SMART volunteering, playing music and turning out a column here and there.
He’s touched the lives of many, most likely not realizing his influence. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned from him over the years:
- Young love can last a lifetime.
- You can make a strong point without raising your voice.
- It’s always an option to give people the benefit of the doubt.
- Awards and praise aren’t that important, when you know your own worth.
- There’s only about 24 hours difference between tragedy and comedy.
- At the end of the day, a cocktail and the correct soundtrack can make a huge difference.
- Just because it is reasonable and logical doesn’t mean everyone will understand.
Happy retirement, Mikel. There are many readers who more than approve of the way you drive.