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'Old-school' journalist, editor dies after battle with cancer

By chirst
April 11, 2013 at 10 p.m.
Updated April 11, 2013 at 11:12 p.m.

Jim Bishop

Jim Bishop's Professional life

• 1963: Started journalism career at The Houston Post, working from copy boy to acting night city editor

• 1989: Became the deputy managing editor of The Gazette Telegraph in Colorado Springs

• 1990: Gazette Telegraph won a Pulitzer Prize for feature writing

• 1990: Became managing editor of The Victoria Advocate

• 1999: Became executive editor of The Victoria Advocate

• 2005: Retired as executive editor, continued to write columns for The Victoria Advocate

•  2009: Retired from The Victoria Advocate

T.C. Sprencel was taking a media studies class for his graduate degree when he realized he already knew the Pulitzer Prize-winning story his professor was quoting.

"We came across this story, and I was just like, 'This one sounds really familiar.' And sure enough, my stepdad had been an editor for the story I was studying in college. I was like, 'Wow,'" Sprencel remembered of his stepdad, Jim Bishop.

Bishop, 69, died Thursday morning after a battle with cancer, Sprencel said but added that Bishop's 46-year newspaper legacy will live after him.

Bishop was first the managing editor at the Advocate and then the executive editor and columnist between 1990 and 2009, coming from the Colorado Springs Gazette after his team won a Pulitzer Prize in feature writing in 1990.

Mike Forman, a sports writer with the Advocate since 1982, remembered Bishop as a skilled editor and a character in the newsroom.

"When you get a picture in your mind of a real newspaper person or an editor, that is what comes to mind - Jim Bishop. He was just the old school newspaper guy," Forman remembered, saying Bishop never backed away from a story. "If you had an idea about something, he was gung ho, like 'Yea go do it.' He wasn't what I would call a cautious editor. He wanted to be real aggressive; just plunge in and do it."

Tim Delaney, who worked as a reporter under Bishop, said the renowned editor mentored him "line by line" on stories, helping him win awards through the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors.

"He had this saying. He said, 'Show; don't tell.' He would say, 'So if you think of a video clip and how it starts off, there is some kind of action that gets you into the story. It is not easy to do it, but you can do that with words, where you create visions with the mind.' He was all about that kind of writing," Delaney said.

Delaney, now the editor of the Refugio County Press, said Bishop will also be remembered for his efforts in the community, starting the Knowledge Bowl for the Victoria Adult Literacy Council in 1995.

"He tried to involve a lot of people at the newspaper when he started that, he would have us all up there helping and doing one thing or another, keeping time or keeping score or something," Delaney said.

Sprencel said he and Bishop would often watch "Jeopardy" and that Bishop loved the Knowledge Bowl for both the trivia and for being able to give back to Victoria.

"That was our thing because he was so just immensely intelligent. As a younger kid, I would sit there in awe and be like, 'How do you know all of this stuff?' And then I got to know some of the answers, too, so we would do that together," Sprencel said.

He said Bishop often told the family adventure stories from being a reporter, such as nearly dying in an explosion while covering a story in Houston.

"There is something very eloquent about someone who can write and deliver a message in the simplest way possible but make it seem so profound. And he was a master of that," Sprencel said.

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