Sharing the magic of newspapers

s-kevinwilson19.jpgBy Kevin Wilson

Staff writer

Wait. So this guy’s a magician and he runs a small-town newspaper?

This should be an interesting story.

That was me, a few weeks ago at media conference in Texas. His name was Randy Keck, and he talked about one of his most frustrating days running a newspaper. With each frustration, he tore the paper in half.

• He had to let somebody go because they just weren’t getting ad design done in time. Rip.

• The computer kept crashing, because the now former designer downloaded a font he didn’t have on his computer. Rip.

• He became the delivery man, because the normal guy got on a not-so-steady ladder. Rip.

• The newspaper didn’t look right, and he realized the printer didn’t bother to scroll the window down and see the files for pages 11 and 12. The front-page stories continued to 11 and the big full-color ad was on page 12. But today’s newspaper only went to page 10. Rip.

The magician part came through when Keck said every once in a while, you get an inspiration and everything comes together. As he said it, he unfolded the suddenly together newspaper.

He told us about three children he’d met while working at the newspaper. All three had medical catastrophes — one went blind midway through high school, another needed brain surgery as a 5-year-old and another lost a leg.

Keck retold us the stories of frustration and triumph. How the blind teenager learned Braille, how the girl survived surgery and how a prosthetic helped the last join marching band.

The father of the child who had the surgery came by a few days later to buy some extra copies. He said five Dallas media outlets came to the hospital. All five of them did a story about the surgery, the father said; only Keck did the story about his daughter.

I wanted to ask how he put together the paper again, but it seemed a little small compared to his message that you sometimes forget the value in what you do.

We may have considered it magic he put the torn paper together; he considered it magic that he gets to do those stories.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve got to put that philosophy to use. Not just as a newspaper reporter, but as a colleague and friend.

• “So how did you meet your husband?” Drew a half-hour conversation with a coworker, and I think our working and personal relationships are better for the talk.

• “You only played one round of golf? What kept you from the second round?” A friend’s dad told me about his only round of golf, and his embarrassment when he talked a big game but couldn’t hit the dang ball. “You see, the 16th hole had a Cadillac for a hole-in-one.” I let him tell the story, even though I knew where it would go — he didn’t have a Cadillac in the garage, and if he did the story would have started, “You know how I got that Cadillac?”

There are a lot more examples. Some I get to write here, some I get to keep for myself. It’s not magic, but it’s nice all the same.


Kevin Wilson is a columnist for Clovis Media Inc. He can be contacted at 763-3431, ext. 319, or by email:

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