Friday, June 26, 2015

Kenda Burrows Editor

I saw in Monday’s Dispatch that Kenda Burrows got first place awards for Best Editorial Page as well as Best Local Editorial from the Illinois Press Association and the Illinois Associated Press Media Editors Association.

A delightful surprise on my part.

I went to one of those events years ago when I was writing for the Galva News. They always read the judges comments before presenting some very nice plaques. For Kenda the judges said in part:

“…I hope readers appreciate what it takes to deliver this much quality local material. The design is not flashy, but local editorials, columnists and letters to the editor set this paper apart.”

As a reader I do appreciate her efforts on the editorial page. It’s always interesting and distinctive.

I especially appreciate her willingness to stick her neck out and give unknown and inexperienced columnists a chance to write on a new and higher level. She did that for me.

I was chosen to be part of a group of guest columnists in 2008 thanks to then governor Rod Blagojevich. He went out of his way to give me a lot of material to work with by closing down state historic sites. Since Bishop Hill had three sites within its tiny village limits, all I had to do was walk from shop to shop and listen to the reactions. I wrote them up, gave the piece a positive twist, and ended with a satirical “Thank you, Governor, for that much.” I had a killer entry.

But winning was the easy part. I had to follow up with other columns. I had to deal with the deadlines. I had to get used to expressing my opinions. I had to write in the first person. Those things did not come easy to me at that point in my writing career.

Working with Kenda on those columns became an invaluable experience in my development as a writer. I will always appreciate her and the Dispatch. 

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