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Forged by the Flames of War

I literally was forged by the flames of war, the writing wars which engulfed Denver for decades. The Denver Post versus the Rocky Mountain News, and the battle raged for most of my life. I knew the players, I had read them for a lifetime, and I worked with them (I admired them so). They were passionate people who cared about what they wrote, and they sparred with words all day and night until they met up at the same Denver taverns to wash it all down.

It's really not that way any longer, and I said my eulogies to the Rocky a few weeks ago when I stared at the construction hole that has replaced her. So many of us moved on and away. And newspapers keep dying, and with them, the writing that compelled so many of us to express ourselves.

I read the Post and the News regularly as a child, comparing the stories and looking for the straight scoop. I wanted to be writer, and I wanted to report. But my style was too poetic, and I cannot tell anything directly to this day. I tried, though. And those people touch me still, and I write poems instead of articles.

My career started innocently enough. I was a mass communications major in college when I was offered a job in the Rocky's newspaper library assisting reporters with their research and archiving their articles.

Newspaper libraries are called the morgue, and I worked fulltime on the late shift to accommodate day classes at the university. Gray metal trays held many years worth of tiny envelopes with newspaper clippings filed by subject and reporter name. I read and filed the reporters' articles late into the night. And I adored the reporters, and I respected them for their ability to reach out and touch others.

As much as I loved the newspaper, I was enthralled with the library. I was fortunate enough to be a part of the creation of an electronic library which slowly replaced the paper files. A quiet, dusty row of newspaper clips made way to centralized databases accessible via subscriptions. Computers replaced the typewriters and reporters were connected to each other and to their editors. Ultimately, the web would connect them with world.

Because that was what the writers tried to illuminate: the world around them. I knew so many selfless people. They had egos, they had personalities, but they wanted to tell the stories of others. They gave a voice to silent, faceless people and made them matter.

The reporters made the world care, because readers felt as if they knew the people in the article.

I feel the same way when I read my local paper, the Washington Post. But newspapers keep dying, and I grieve for the way they could touch me. I mourn for the way they made me feel involved. Those writers are people, and the emotion they can kindle within us.
- Mary O. Fumento, 2007

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