Longtime readers of The Chronicle are probably very familiar with the work of Doug Blosser, even if his name rarely appeared in the newspaper.
Blosser, who died earlier this month at age 74, a year after having a serious stroke, was the kind of unheralded, dedicated journalist who keeps a community newspaper alive and thriving.
Blosser spent four decades off and on at The Chronicle, covering a variety of jobs within the newsroom. I worked alongside him for a dozen years. I remember him as helpful, positive, hardworking and absolutely dedicated to getting the facts right before we went to print.
He was a page designer who was the first one at the building at well before dawn, selecting wire copy and putting on the first pot of coffee.
“Doug was one of the best co-workers I’ve ever known,” said former Chronicle Lifestyle Editor Judy Marks in a Facebook news post last week that became a tribute. “A kind, gentle and funny man.”
He typed out the hand-written letters to the editor we received, fixing spelling and grammatical errors so people’s thoughts could be presented in their best light. It was a tedious and thankless job that he did with professionalism and good humor. He also composed the headlines for letters to the editor. Concisely and fairly summarizing the point being made in the letter was an important and surprisingly difficult job.
Sometimes he’d comment on how hard this task was when, even after many readings, it was legitimately hard to figure out what point the writer was trying to make.
He converted copies of scrawled restaurant inspection reports into the crisp, precise copy that was always a popular part of the newspaper.
He typed up court records, taking great care to make sure that every detail was correct. No one likes to see their name printed in a list of felony convictions, but a misspelling or fact wrong in that part of the newspaper could be more consequential (legally for the newspaper and reputationally for someone improperly reported to be convicted). Doug knew that it was essential for the list of crimes and consequences to be accurate. He would painstakingly double-check every time. The extra time was worth it, he believed.
He compiled information on weddings, births, school honor rolls and the “Voices” items by citizen journalists that often required a great deal of effort to convert into something comprehensible. Doug took it all in stride and always had a smile when talking with the public. He had an uncelebrated but important role, and he was proud of his title of Newsroom Clerk.
Doug had an old-fashioned work ethic. The neverending succession of young faces coming into the newsroom learned a lot from him. He had a dedication to accuracy and an ability to keep rolling no matter the difficulty. That rubbed off on us.
“He was always such a great guy to be around, cheerful … even when things weren’t going how they should, encouraging to us young’uns,” said former Chronicle staffer Jodi Baker. “It was an honor to spend so many years working with him.”
A few of us would sometimes tease him gently (his longtime habit of answering the phone in his calm baritone voice with a practiced, “Newsroom, Doug Blosser” turned into our nickname for him: “Newsroom Doug Blosser.”)
He didn’t work at the front desk, but he was a public face for The Chronicle over the phone. He would answer the phone all day and make his own calls to confirm that people who submitted a letter to the editor actually were who they said they were.
“I miss his presence at The Chronicle,” said prolific letter writer Dennis Shain of Centralia, “his straightforward humor and understanding. I used to tease him about him not allowing exclamation marks in letters to the editor, but I slipped one by him one time in a one word sentence: ‘Viola!’”
Frequent writers of letters to the editor got to know Doug well. He understood the quiet importance of his role as that of a facilitator, helping members of the community have a public voice.
Doug was dedicated to his family. He was preceded in death by one son, Kevin, and one grandson. He is survived by his son Ryan and three grandchildren.
A native of Pullman (his father was professor at Washington State University), Doug attended WSU himself and was a dedicated lifelong Cougar. He’d attend the Apple Cup as often as he could.
In his memory, I’m proud to offer a “Go Cougs” today and a tip of my cap to a true Chronicler.
Brian Mittge can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.