These are very dark, tough times for the newspaper business.
We need all the warriors we can get.
We lost a great one over the weekend.
One of the very first things I do at the ungodly hour I get up every day is check my email. It's a bad habit. Just ask my wife.
That is how I learned early Sunday morning that something had happened to my friend, Tom Murray.
A quick hunt on Facebook confirmed my worst fears. Tom was gone.
I am lesser because of it.
This business is lesser because of it.
In this racket we need a lot more people like Tom Murray, not fewer.
Tom was my compatriot at our sister paper, the Daily Local News in West Chester.
I can sum up Tom in two words, ironically words that are often used to describe me.
Tom was from my era, a time when print was king, a time before we became slaves to the 24-hour news cycle, a time before 'fake news,' a time before a story wasn't really a story unless it could be delivered in 140 characters, or draw a ton of eyeballs on Facebook.
There was nothing fake about Tom Murray.
I sometimes joked that he and I were like ships in the night. He was a Delco guy who drove out to Chester County every day. I was a Chesco native who made the trek here to Delco daily.
Tom had a voice like gravel, a tone reminiscent of a time gone by, what we at one time used to refer to as "print guys."
And yet he was immensely adaptable, moving seamlessly into what we refer today as the "new media."
That's because Tom was, in a word, a newsman.
He lived it, breathed it, and delivered it every day.
It's an art, really, one we are fast losing. In discussing a story, I could always count on Tom to know what, in our parlance, constituted a great "read."
Tom made stops in Burlington County, as well as our weekly papers out on the Main Line. Then he ran a site for Patch.com. For a while he even got out of the business, before being lured back.
He started working in our production hub creating pages. About a year he was named editor of the Daily Local.
Yeah, once that ink gets in your blood, it's hard to get out. I know.
So what will be do today? Of course we will mourn Tom. But we'll also celebrate him. We'll do that by doing what we do every day. We'll report the news.
But we'll do it with heavy hearts.
Tom Murray will not be with us.
And we're all the lesser for it.
Rest well, friend.
I'll put a -30- on it for you.