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Dana Heupel

Wednesday, Jan 9, 2019

* My old buddy Kevin McDermott wrote a fitting tribute to our friend Dana Heupel

My friend and former editor Dana Heupel died the morning after Christmas. I’d heard about his health problems. “I need to give him a call,” I’d said, a few times.

I’ve tried to determine when we last spoke. I know it was more than two years ago, because I don’t remember ever having a conversation with him about our current political era — and had we talked, we’d have talked about that.

Heck, snippets of it would still be echoing over Springfield, Illinois, in language I won’t use here.

Dana was normally a calm and unassuming guy, but he was also the quintessential watchdog journalist; get him going about abuse of power, governmental incompetence or attacks against the free press, and his rhetoric would peel the paint from the walls.

He was an editor at the State Journal-Register in Springfield in the early 1990s, when I was a reporter there. He’d worked in California before coming to this stodgy old Midwestern local newspaper — Lincoln’s favorite, they would never let you forget. He brought with him an ambitious plan to apply new oversight to Illinois’ famously crooked politicians, using the then-edgy concept of “computer-assisted reporting.”

It sounds funny now, like bragging about driving a “horseless carriage.” But at the time, for a paper like ours, it was a journalistic moon shot.

Go read the whole thing.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

7 Comments »
  1. - Streamwood Retiree - Wednesday, Jan 9, 19 @ 11:01 am:

    I’m sorry for the death of your friend.
    The only consolation I can offer is that he seems to have had a productive life, doing what he loved to do. Lift a glass to his memory.


  2. - Linus - Wednesday, Jan 9, 19 @ 11:02 am:

    Dana was a super guy and a consummate professional, with a great sense of humor. He will be missed.


  3. - illini - Wednesday, Jan 9, 19 @ 11:23 am:

    This is simply another reminder that there was a time when journalists and their editors were so critical to the serious public discourse of issues and policies. But times have changed.

    I am still grateful that there are those in the profession that I can respect for the quality of their work. But that number appears to be dwindling over time.


  4. - Honeybear - Wednesday, Jan 9, 19 @ 11:30 am:

    Thank you Rich,
    Memorializing, Eulogizing
    are such an important thing.
    Deriving meaning from a life
    is a sacred task as is
    our duty
    to learn from that meaning.


  5. - 47th and Lake Park - Wednesday, Jan 9, 19 @ 3:34 pm:

    Dana was a great guy who really thought that journalism had an important role in American democracy. I always admired his ability to keep that attitude, even in the face of the last 30 of both IL politics and journalism’s demise. So long. old friend.


  6. - ________________________ - Wednesday, Jan 9, 19 @ 7:21 pm:

    eight. get pleasure from the real fish searching experience.


  7. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jan 9, 19 @ 11:36 pm:

    I never met Dana Heupel but the tribute to him makes me wish I had. My sincere condolences to his friends and family.


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