Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mike Harden

I’m a little sad today because I just heard about a death of someone in our community. Columbus Dispatch columnist Mike Harden passed away last night after a battle with cancer.

Did I know Mike personally? No, not really. I met him a couple times when he was a guest lecturer for my favorite courses at Franklin University – news writing and news editing (big surprise, eh?).

But I didn’t know him personally. I don’t know what type of cancer he had or how long he endured his battle. I remember reading about his family from time to time, but I don’t know how many children and grandchildren he had or how many times he was married.

So, no, he was not a “friend.” He was just one of us.

I did think of him over the years as sort of a mentor. He wrote about common things and common people. We recognized our neighbors, our family and our friends in his writing. Sometimes he wrote about extraordinary events or people and I can remember his columns after Hurricane Katrina and Columbine. He took a headline and put a face on it. While we were warm and safe and dry in our homes, for example, through Mike’s writing we were transported to the sad and desperate conditions in Louisiana after Katrina.

I don’t read actual newspapers anymore because, like many people in the electronic age, we get our news instantly on our computers, cell phones and 24-hour news channels. Reading the newspaper sometimes seems superfluous.

Besides, I have had some big-time billing and delivery issues in recent years with the newspaper. Don't get me started.

But I have to admit that I used to get more detail from the newspaper as writers and editors generally have more time to flesh out a story than the constantly-repeating headline crawls from those 24-hour news channels that rehash the same old breaking news information.

I also admit that I sometimes miss holding an actual newspaper in hand and paging through different sections. I might have skipped over the political commentaries or some of the less-than-funny comics – but I always stopped on any article by Mike Harden. Whether it was his mythical Aunt Gracie from Methane, Ohio or an actual person in the news in our community he was featuring, I enjoyed reading his prose. He made me think and he made me laugh.

So I will miss him. He touched a lot of lives. He touched mine.

You made a difference, Mike Harden. May you rest in peace.


  1. Jane, I think this is a very thoughtful tribute to Mike Harden. I DO llike your writing!!!

  2. Wonderful words, Jane! As a journalist myself, I always enjoyed Mike's wit and wisdom.