Last week I attended the retirement party of a newspaper publisher I truly admire and respect. Â Bruce Smith publisher of the Herald & News in Logan Utah is retiring at 70 years old and 54 years working in the newspaper business and that doesnâ€™t include time as a paper boy.
I met Bruce when we both worked for Pioneer Newspapers, and has been a mentor to me as to howÂ a newspaper should be run. He deeply cared about the people who worked with him and the customers they served. Bruce was the senior publisher in our group and a true journalist in every sense of the word. During his years as a publisher he never put the interest of anyone or anything before the mission of keeping the readers of the newspapers he published informed about the happening in their community. One example of his dedication to protecting the publicâ€™s right to know happened a few years ago in Logan. Bruce is deeply religious and a member of his LDS church. Â The Herald & News did some stories about gay Mormons in the church. The stories angered many members of his church and the paper lost a large number of subscriptions and advertising dollars as a result. Through it all he insisted that the stories run because it is better to confront an issue than ignore it. Â
Bruce is what many would consider a fitness nut. He runs and rides his bike daily. He loves to hike and at age 61 he was hiking in the Andes Mountains in Peru on September 11, 2001. Bruce always worked hard to score 100% on the companyâ€™s health exam we all took each year. Which is why we his friends were completely surprised three years ago when he was diagnosed with mantel cell lymphoma? The rare and aggressive cancer was considered by most at the time incurable. While we his friends studied the deadly disease and feared the worse, Bruce says the thought never crossed his mind that he was going to die. Â During his 18-months of fighting the disease he even talked the doctor in to letting him ride a stationary bike during treatments. Thanks to his grit and a new treatment at the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah Bruce announced at his retirement party that he is cancer free. Reflecting on his cancer He said, “The challenges make you stronger . . . every day is a precious commodity.”
Bruce has been an example and a resource to many a new publisher which included myself. Â Recently a new publisher recanted that he asked Bruce what he thought was the future of newspapers? Â Bruce assured him that as long as we remember the value of newspapers is the trust our readers have in our content there will always be newspapers. I would add that as long as there are newspaper people like Bruce Smith our industry will continue to be a necessary part of the communities they serve.