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Opinion: A eulogy for Mick Lowe, the journalist we needed

‘His advocacy journalism alerted readers to a perspective that was often missing and enabled them to see all sides of the problem’
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Mick Lowe, author and former Northern Life columnist, retired journalist, passed away April 17, 2021. (File)

One more warrior from the Golden Age of Sudbury has said farewell to a few veterans left. He was one of a kind and leaves behind a void that will be difficult to fill.

He was above all a writer par excellence. He had the gift to transform any event into a story. As a journalist, he wrote for newspapers and magazines, and made the context so clear as to make the full story meaningful. 

He exemplified the craft of writing and took pains to construct compositions of clarity and substance. The cadence of his prose was and is a delight to read. The best example is his book, “The Conspiracy of Brothers”. Contemporary twitterati may find his crisp writing too long and switch to a jumble of words with a 164-character limit on the internet. Pity.

Max Frankel of The New York Times who pioneered the art of contextual frame for a story would be proud of one of his disciples. 

It pains me to say that there were newspapers in North America. Anyone who doubts the vital importance of local journalism to sustain a liberal democracy may want to read the brilliant explication of this idea in the book “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century”, by Timothy D. Snyder of Yale.

When it came to writing either straightforward news reports or opinion columns on labour matters, he was more like the journalists of France who articulate a point-of-view. His advocacy journalism alerted readers to a perspective that was often missing and enabled them to see all sides of the problem. 

It was refreshing to see all sides in a complex situation like the industrial dispute of 1978 at INCO, now Vale. His writings contributed to the transformation of Sudbury from being a mining town into a town with a mining industry. I salute him for his contribution.

A problem is the gap between what is and what is possible whereas an issue is how that gap is overcome. Although this important distinction has been erased by common usage, it is helpful to maintain the difference. 

Mick and I agreed on the set of problems (ends) confronting Sudbury as early as 1976. We disagreed, however, on how to mitigate the problems (means). Notwithstanding our thoughtful differences, he never treated me as some kind of enemy or adversary. 

Our conversations were animated, but never antagonistic. His cross-examination of my thoughts made me a better thinker. I shall dearly miss that honest exchange of ideas.

All of us will miss you Mick.

Narasim Katary lives in Greater Sudbury.