Blair Claflin: good luck and you are gonna shake the depression

Dateline: Wed 31 Oct 2007

First, the news, courtesy yesterday of the tireless even-tho-she-is-large-with-child Ms. Jennifer Wagner of Taking Down Words, who published the following Star memo yesterday:

http://www.takingdownwords.com/

"Steve Berta

10/30/2007 05:18 PM

To: StarNewsroom

"Subject: Good luck, Blair

"I regret to announce that one of our brightest lights, Blair Claflin, will be leaving the Star to become Diversity Communications Manager for Cummins Inc. He will start his new job on Dec. 3.

"Blair has helped us through many changes in the last four and a half years, including the acceleration of online postings and reorganization of the newsroom. And he has guided some of our strongest breaking news coverage, from the death of Frank O'Bannon to the recent tax debacle. His quick wit, extensive knowledge and incisive news judgment will be greatly missed. I'm sure he'll have no problem carrying out his new charge at Cummins, where he will be documenting how diversity can positively effect the bottom line.

Please join me in wishing Blair well in his new adventure."

Blair is going to be working for the same folks former Star biz editor Mark Land signed on with; Land is communications boss for Cummins. Land was driven out of the newsroom a few years back by publisher Barbara Henry -- as I recall, it was at the behest of former Star editor and special friend to Henry, Nancy Winkley. Winkley and Land got into some sort of pissing match, and Land lost. As has been reported elsewhere, Land was so well-liked that many reporters followed him out the door....

As for Blair, he's an all-around great guy: respectful, a terrific editor, witty, funny as hell, lightning quick on the uptake. He had told me he moved to the Indy area to get help from grandparents, a subject near and dear to my heart. But with the long hours he put in as city editor, and without getting bumped up the Gannett food chain/mill, he obviously got fed up. Or maybe he just said "no." Interesting, since he formerly worked with both Henry and exec editor Dennis Ryerson in Des Moines.

I can't resist including this quote from a 2004 February/March article in American Journalism Review on the Star:

http://www.ajr.org/Article.asp?id=3542

"On the city desk, Claflin ....says he has filled four positions since coming to Indianapolis in July and has six to eight openings.

"'You can be depressed; sometimes I am depressed when I look out into the newsroom and there's nobody to send a story to,' Claflin says. 'But it's a tremendous opportunity to bring in talented people with new and different ideas about how to go out and cover news. In a very short time, we're going to change the face of the paper with all these hires.'

Of course, all these hires never happened. No doubt Claflin's depression -- which must have deepened since 2004 -- will lift now.

Best to Blair.

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