|A tribute to Ray Moscowitz|
It used to be that bad news came in the form of a phone call or knock on the door. In today's world, it's just as likely to be an e-mail, a Facebook post or some other electronic harbinger of news.
Progress, I guess.
The e-mail tagline on my computer screen simply said "A Hoosier legend has died." Who knew an e-mail could feel like a phone ringing at 3 o'clock in the morning?
I've learned that Ray Moscowitz, an Indiana Journalism Hall of Famer and legend amongst many Hoosier journalists, has died.
He had been battling brain cancer and had a recent emergency surgery for a perforated bowel.
All journalists lost a friend with his death,
Hoosier State Press Association
I suppose the word legend is probably overused today. Not so in this case. Ray Moscowitz, a man small in stature, was a giant in the newspaper industry. He had a sharp laugh and a wit to match. Born in 1938, he spent his adult life working in newspapers - good newspapers that were made better by his presence. The 14-part series he wrote when covering the Middle East was lauded by the editor of the Chicago Daily News as the best he had seen. Ray won more journalism awards individually than most newspaper staffs do. And he was a great editor and teacher. He sent former staff members to USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, wire services, the Indianapolis Star, universities and beyond.
Ray grew up in Los Angeles but eventually ended up with the Nixon newspaper family and settled in Indiana. Hoosier journalists who were lucky enough to work for and with him often said they graduated from the Ray Moscowitz School of Journalism.
Most readers in Montgomery County never knew Ray, but he had an impact on the little newspaper that could. Ray and I met what seems like a hundred years ago and became friends. He followed my career from one coast to the other and often sent me notes saying he was proud of this or that I had done. A note of that sort from Ray meant everything because he wasn't one to pass out compliments lightly.
When we opened our doors in Crawfordsville a dozen years ago, Ray was one of my first phone calls. Actually, wherever I worked Ray was one of my first calls. When I wanted to upgrade training for reporters in North Carolina, I called Ray. When we set up a leadership training program for senior managers in South Bend, I called Ray. When I was thinking about leaving a cushy job to help start a newspaper in Crawfordsville, I called Ray.
He was there every single time.
Ray's worked with The Paper's news staff, giving them the kind of information that only someone who's been there and exceled can give. He came to Crawfordsville to speak to the company shareholders at one of our first board meetings. He had 10 of us seated around the table and asked each one to share why they had invested significantly in a daily newspaper. Most of us said something along the lines of creating a community partner, being an advocate for readers and things like that. After the last one, the diminutive Ray slammed his open palm down on the table and said, "Wrong! You own a business to make money! If you don't make money, the business won't survive! Don't ever forget that!"
As the years flew by, I guess Ray liked what we were doing. He called one day and asked if we would consider starting a paper in another city. He said the existing paper had lost touch with the readers and the community. We talked a long time about that. A newspaper that wasn't truly connected to its community was simply a foreign concept to Ray.
It's not possible to sum Ray Moscowitz up in a nice, neat, tidy paragraph. He was a member of the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame. When the Hoosier State Press Association created something to honor Indiana newspapers that went above and beyond the call of duty, they chose to name it the Ray Moscowitz Award. His many other accolades, the honors could literally take up pages.
Steve Key, the director of Hoosier State Press, said it perfectly in the e-mail - all journalists lost a friend in his death. Rest in peace, Ray.
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