* 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.