Jim Thompson

Publisher, Coeur d'Alene Press

Coeur d'Alene, ID

[ID-E 0101]

My dad loved the newspaper business; he was passionate about being a publisher editor of the local newspaper – [a] huge responsibility. We had a daily opinion page that was well read and well used – a great voice for people in the community. The title of our opinion page was “Sound Off” and my dad’s editor – well many editors through the years because they didn’t all live up to his standards.

At one point he had this editor who was very comfortable creating a very lot of conversation in the community, and using the opinion page to express his views and be a voice for the community.

But the turning point for me, I think, was – my dad had been maybe, then, out of the office for a couple days, and when he came back he picked up his newspaper and read the opinion in the newspaper that was his voice. And he was so upset about it, he met immediately – he had two assistant editors working underneath him – and met with them immediately and pointed out to them that they knew better. They knew his mind. And he was pretty upset about what they printed the paper.

And one of them – I guess both of them, they were young guys – said, “Well, as editor of the newspaper – we’ll do what we want.”

And that was when I really understood the power of the paper and how important that opinion was because they were both unemployed, instantly. And my dad went back, took [control] even more than ever – we were a small newspaper, very small staff.

That was a big decision for my dad to make because he probably worked 16 hours a day after that until he could patch it all up, but that’s how important it was to him.

He just felt so strongly about the importance of the newspaper continuing to challenge the people to think, see all sides of an issue, make their own decisions. You don’t have to be right, but we have to get the information out so people can make those decisions.

That was a turning point for me. You don’t see people get fired that often in any business.