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Advocate Editorial Board meeting: Former editor was great leader for paper

By By the Advocate Editorial Board
April 15, 2013 at 5:02 p.m.
Updated April 14, 2013 at 11:15 p.m.


Every industry has its leaders: Men and women who work their way to success, then teach and mentor those who follow to one day take the lead as well.

In the realm of journalism, Jim Bishop was one of those leaders. He came to the Advocate in 1990 after winning a Pulitzer with his team at the Colorado Springs Gazette. He began at the Advocate as the managing editor then became the executive editor and a columnist. His weekly column "News to Me" ran until he retired in 2009.

"It was a privilege to work with such a pro like Jim," retired Advocate publisher John Roberts said in an email. "He loved words and newspapers. He left The Advocate a better place and left me a better newsman."

Bishop was a mentor to many during his time here and always worked to bring the best out of reporters. Gerard Farrell was a reporter with the Advocate from 1991-96 and then managing editor and editor/publisher of the Matagorda Advocate until 1998. He remembers Bishop's philosophy of "Show, don't tell." Often, Farrell said, Bishop would tell reporters to "stand up for a minute" and begin reworking their stories, showing them how to improve.

"The story itself didn't matter. What did was that we told it well and that we got it right," Farrell said in an email. "Our job was to educate our readers - you - about your communities, to empower and maybe motivate you to make them better. But to do that, we had to get and hold your attention by making you smile, laugh or even cry. Few ever did that as well as he."

Bishop was a man who knew not just the craft of good journalism but also understood the value and importance of journalistic integrity. D'Ann Shippy, who worked the Advocate's business beat from 1990 to 1993 as a "cub reporter" straight out of college, remembers Bishop's advice when he reminded her about these tenants after an angry caller brought her to tears.

"I was embarrassed by my display of emotion, but Jim only treated me with respect and kindness and reminded me of one of the tenets of journalism: The reporter must be an independent and fair news-gatherer and writer whose allegiance is to the public alone, providing the news without fear or favor. I left his office so proud of my leader - an ethical, experienced journalist who held his staff to a high standard and who didn't kowtow to outside influences," Shippy said in an email.

Good leaders know how to get a job done, but great leaders know how to build people up while they accomplish and surpass goals. Bishop did that on not just a professional level but on a personal level as well. David Eldridge, who worked as deputy city editor of the Advocate from 1993 to 1995, remembered Bishop as "bigger than life, brilliant with words and quick to laugh."

"Jim made all of us believe that what we did at the Advocate every day was as important and as vital as launching the space shuttle - and more fun than quarterbacking the Dallas Cowboys," Eldridge said.

We are honored to have such a man as part of the Advocate's legacy. Bishop was a strong leader who cherished the excellence and integrity of news through both the quality of the stories and building up the reporters who wrote them. We can think of no more fitting tribute than the words of Gary Schneeberger, the Advocate's assistant managing editor from 1992 to 1995:

"Jim was a word-whisperer. He loved them, cared for them, coaxed them to do what he needed them to do - to inform, inspire, humor and move readers. And he wasn't stingy with that talent. He spread it around with joy to those of us fortunate enough to be mentored by him. I loved him for who he was and what he cared enough to make me as a writer, editor and boss."

Thank you, Jim Bishop, for your years of service and for all you brought to the Victoria Advocate and to journalism as a whole. May you rest in peace.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.

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