COLUMN: Unsung leader of newsroom meets his last deadline

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On Friday we bid a fond farewell to Inter Lake Assistant Managing Editor Scott Crandell, who headed out of the newsroom and into retirement after 26 years here.

Many of you won’t recognize his name unless you’ve noticed the fine print on our editorial page that lists the Inter Lake’s editorial board members. (He has written some of the Inter Lake’s finest editorials through the years.) Trust me when I say he has been the quintessential unsung hero of this news operation.

Scott would hate me using a cliché as I write about him. He bristled if a reporter overused catch-phrases such as “win-win situation” or “labor of love.” But this one I can’t avoid. Scott has been the wind beneath our wings in the newsroom, the silent force that has driven us onward through good times and bad. There’s no other way to put it. All of his work went into making us better writers and making the Inter Lake the best possible newspaper it could be on any given day. Working for the glory of others is not an easy job.

I always appreciated his pragmatic, straight-forward style. You always knew where you stood with Scott. While his praise was sparse — a “good job” compliment from him could lift your spirit for days — his encouragement was constant. That was apparent during a farewell lunch when our younger reporters said how much his mentoring has meant to them.

Scott was a consummate journalist and a brilliant copy editor. His guidance through breaking news was one of his finest qualities. He instinctively knew who to contact, how to handle any breaking story — especially fires. Scott loved to cover fires and he was darn good at it.

It’s rare these days to have someone in the newsroom with as much institutional knowledge. It was an artesian well that we constantly drew from.

Our publisher noted during the farewell gathering how Scott’s even keel and compassion held the newsroom together six years ago when two of our reporters died in a plane crash. As Scott himself added, it was the Inter Lake’s finest hour of news coverage yet also our worst, having to report a tragedy that impacted all of us.

Scott was always a numbers guy. He pointed out during his last week that he has worked with 79 writers and editors during his time here, and was involved with putting together 6,211 editions of the paper.

His dedication to the job was second to none. He was here every morning when I arrived and he was still at his desk almost always when I left at the end of the day. He worked as hard on his last day as he did on his first. In fact, I tried to beat him to work on his last day, arriving at 7:45 a.m., only to find him already at work.

Scott and I have worked together so closely over the 21 years I’ve been here that we practically finish each other’s sentences. I’ve been mourning his departure for weeks, yet I can’t help but be happy for him. He deserves all of the rest and relaxation that retirement can provide.

I’ll leave you with one last image that was indicative of our working relationship. A couple of years ago when the power went out at the Inter Lake office, which is pitch black without electricity because there are no windows, everyone scattered from the newsroom except him and me. He shined a flashlight over my reporter’s notebook so I could write a short story to post online once power was restored.

One of our photographers came in and snapped a photo of us in this “old-school” mode and posted it on Facebook. That single snapshot seems symbolic now. He’s been our guiding light, and we’ll feel the glow of what he taught us for years to come.

Features editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or by email at lhintze@dailyinterlake.com.

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