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Postman on Politics

Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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August 11, 2008 10:37 AM

Hughes leaves World for history

Posted by David Postman

I was shocked to see that John Hughes, editor and publisher of the Daily World in Aberdeen, had announced he was leaving the trade. He’s going to be in charge of the state’s oral history program.

Hughes has been at the World his entire career. He started as a nine-year-old paperboy and worked his way up to editor and then publisher. He’s 64, so it’s not that I thought he would work forever. And this sounds like the perfect new job for Hughes, a historian by avocation and the author of a fascinating book about Grays Harbor County, "On the Harbor, From Black Friday to Nirvana."

But the loss for the rest of us is greater than just the institutional memory that will move with Hughes from his newspaper office to to-be-built Heritage Center. He was a meat and potatoes journalist who knew how to balance the competing interests of sticking up for your community and giving it a kick when needed. Small town papers don’t always carry that off so well.

He’s been among the strongest advocates for open meetings and public records in the state. He's also a damn good writer. There's a long list of journalists in this state who have passed through The World. They all owe something to Hughes, as do we who now benefit -- and sometimes suffer -- at the hands of his proteges.

I am certain that Hughes’ new job won’t make him any less of an advocate for the people, places and things he has long championed. But the newspaper business in this state just won’t be the same without him among the ranks of the ink-stained wrenches.

Secretary of State Sam Reed, Hughes' new boss, is running a home for wayward journalists, young and old. He hired AP vet Dave Ammons as his press secretary and Christina Siderius, formerly a rising star at the Seattle Times, to do new media.

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