Over the weekend I learned of the death of Max Jennings. Max was my academic adviser when I started at ASU, and I took several news writing classes that he taught. Then he left to become Executive Editor of the Mesa Tribune, and when I graduated he gave me my first job there.
Max was a journalist of the old school, not afraid to raise his voice in the newsroom, always ready to point out your mistakes and praise your good work in equal measure. When I was the news editor on the Tribune, each day I would come in to work to find a copy of that morning’s paper in my mailbox with every mistake circled with a red marker pen, from a missing comma to a missing fact. I absolutely hated opening up that paper each day. But I learned how to get things right.
I lost touch with Max after I went to work in Los Angeles and beyond. But if he’d known what I’ve been up to in the intervening years, I’d like to think he’d have smiled that big, goofy grin and said in his Texas drawl, “Ridey, not bad, kiddo”.