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Something was missing this last week from the Appeal’s newsroom

by John dimambro

There was something missing in this past week’s Nevada Appeal. There was also someone missing from the Nevada Appeal, as a newspaper, and as a building.

That “something” is actually part of that “someone,” and both are now missing.

That “something” is made up of some of the best editorials I have read. Ever! The “someone” who wrote them is former editor Barry Smith.

Barry, as you by now know, has accepted the role of executive director of the Nevada Press Association, the state offices of which are located on North Curry Street in Carson City. After slightly more than 15 long and distinguished years of employment with our mother company, Swift Newspapers (10 years of which were here at the Nevada Appeal), Barry decided it was time for a change. He will be unquestionably missed here, but we newspaper executives find compensatory comfort in the fact that he will represent the newspapers of Nevada with high intelligence, deep knowledge and dignity.

Barry is, by far, the best editorial writer with whom I have had the pleasure to work. And believe me, I’ve worked with some damn good ones over the past 25 years. He could lend comment to any topic with educated authority, and could write about them with even greater effect. When it came to the news, you could always count on him to mark a topical spot, build strength in his opinions like winds over water, and land a direct hit with a gust of quiet confidence that sheltered a storm of opinions – ones that struck like lightning bolts – in the form of his editorials.

But what I most admired about Barry was his sense of balance that held in opposite yet integral scales, the weights of factual news and singular judgment -the type of judgment that leads to opinions that allowed him to maintain that rare accomplishment of loyal respect from his readers, even when his boatload of opinions might have pushed against the currents of the mainstream.

Though the authors of our editorials (which readers often confuse with articles and especially columns), are not identified, the majority of our dedicated opinion page readers know which ones were written by Barry Smith. They knew the style: those short, bullet-shell sentences that struck their target time and time again. And when leaders in our community were unjustly attacked by the crowds who would mindlessly cast stones, Barry was there to build a wall of defense in columns of bricks that were words of logic cemented by reason and facts.

In my opinion, though Barry has so much to offer the Nevada Press Association, as well as any company, his career-defining moments will be geometrically connected to his role as editor of the Appeal. You see, an editor does more than just write editorials and/or columns. Much more. And the difference between a writer and a journalist – a legitimate journalist – is huge. It’s as vast as the difference between a dentist and a neurologist.

Barry Smith was and remains a journalist, and the Nevada Appeal has been honored to have his professional wisdom grace our pages for 10 distinctively honorable years.

— John DiMambro is publisher of the Nevada Appeal. Contact him at jdimambro@nevadaappeal.com.