Monday, February 28, 2011

We have lost a great 'Queen Bee'

A community said goodbye today to a very nice woman.

Catherine Monk was. It's not one of those things you say of the dead. It's true.

I shared a nanosecond of time in the Richmond County Daily Journal's newsroom back in 2006 and 2007.

When I arrived to interview in late 2005, Catherine had a serious medical condition. It was almost certain that she would not return to work. After all, she had went to the rehab floor of the hospital. People didn't leave that floor.

Catherine defied that prediction. She returned to work.

Her mobility had left her, but she could work the phone better than any journalist I had met. In general, you don't want a reporter to sit in the office, but Catherine was different.  Why? She knew her community. She worked in the community for around 50 years before I ever joined the staff. She was a living archive of both the community and the newspaper's history.

I didn't get to know Catherine too much on a personal level. I was too busy working through that transition of the old age of newspapers and the changes beginning to surface in the industry around 2007 — smaller budgets and staffs to create the same product. Those who did go to lunch with her always returned with a smile on their face.

She died last Friday after an extended illness.

Her friend and former colleague Tom MacCallum wrote a touching story about her life.

This comment stuck with me the most:
“She represents one more loss of figures from the earlier years of the newspaper, when it was published in the afternoon, and when its writers and editors were totally woven into the community they served,” (Jeff Holland) said.
The Journal like so many community newspapers are a training ground for journalists. Reporters come and go much to the annoyance of some local leaders, who become part of a reluctant on-the-job training for them. Catherine did not. She worked in the community for more than half a century. Her experience helped a lot of reporters, editors and writers — and especially her readers.
Catherine will be missed.

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