A headline - & final salute - to a newsman's best friend: RIP, Greg Harvey

One of the things I can count on in this job is that every day I am going to make a lot of people irate.

It sort of goes with the territory.

Most of the time, people who call or visit the office just want to blow off some steam. They disagree with something we did, or want to point out an error, or complain about what they perceive to be a bias or unfair coverage.

Of course today, a lot of that plays out on social media. I am regularly skewered there. Again, it's part of what I do, and I will heartily defend anyone's First Amendment right to do just that.

Occasionally, these disagreements will take on a more serious, stern tone.

A person will think they have been wronged by the newspaper and take action to seek redress.

That sometimes results in one of the single worst things that can happen to a newspaper editor.

A letter arrives at the newspaper office and makes its way to the editor's office.

His heart immediately goes into his throat as he eyes the envelope - and the law firm's brand firmly emblazoned at the top.

The letters always start out the same way.

"Please be advised that I represent .... "

It's happened to everyone in this business at one time or another. If it hasn't I might suggest you are not doing your job.

It has been my angst to go through this process many times in nearly four decades in the newspaper business.

It's at times like these that you are glad to have someone like Greg Harvey in your corner.

Harvey, 81, passed away this week.

He has been recalled as perhaps the quintessential Philadelphia lawyer, an expert in election law who once led the effort to recall then Mayor Frank Rizzo.

But it's not why I will always remember - and revere - Greg Harvey.

Greg Harvey also was a staunch defender of the press and the First Amendment. And in particular a lawyer who reveled in going to war with those who would bring at times baseless claims for libel against the newspaper.

He used to represent this newspaper when we got hauled into court.

Don't get me wrong. I've made more than my share of mistakes in this racket. I've gotten things wrong. But I've never set out to libel anyone, despite what some would believe.

Harvey knew - and understood - that.

Too often in today's corporate world, a claim for libel quickly makes its way to a settlement. Believe it or not, it's often cheaper than litigation.

That wasn't Greg Harvey's way. I always remember how he dealt with frivolous claims, a terse "see you in court." A lot of things have changed in the newspaper racket.

Add one more to the list.

Greg Harvey will be missed.