It’s not often anymore that I wake up to delightful news. These days the pre-dawn check of the headlines means automatic morning sickness. Not this morning. Krys Fluker, that scrappy survivor and my old colleague at the Daytona Beach News-Journal, was just appointed editorial page editor there.
The appointment is about 10 years late, but blaming newspapers for being behind the times is old news. The Jurassic masthead chose well. We have a true reporter, an elegant writer, a fount of compassion, a regional native who knows her Volusia as well as she knows her Flagler, and best of all (for me) a liberal back in charge, tactically closeted though she may have to keep her liberalism from time to time: it’s not by chance she’s survived the newspaper’s ideological scissorhands for so long.
Krys and I were colleague for almost 10 years, working out of two adjoining offices at the far edge of the News-Journal’s left-wing heresies. That was back when mid-size family-owned papers like the News-Journal still had luxurious editorial page departments. Ours was led by Dave Wiggins, with Krys, me, Pamela Hasterock, the late Kay Semion, cartoonist Bruce Beatty and my old flame and letters editor Kathleen Casey forming the editorial board. Don Lindley, the paper’s editor, always joined us for the morning conference when we debated and sometimes brawled over how to save the world. Imagine that: an editorial board of eight. These days I’m not sure the entire News-Journal has so much as eight reporters left.
We were all lefties but until my arrival there made her look conservative Krys was the reigning heretic. Her specialties included among many others state politics (she’d been a statehouse reporter in Tallahassee, and she’s still my go-to source for shortcuts there), law, social services, health care and mental health: it was Krys who made me realize we have a grave and still unaddressed mental health crisis in our two counties. It was Krys who frequently got me right-size up when I’d find myself channeling Gregor Samsa.
I may have stolen the Flagler beat from her when I got there, but torrents of Cokes and Mountain Dews helping she could write on any subject, any time, under whatever deadline, and still produce a cogent argument that never lacked heart or understanding for the human beings behind the newsprint. Plus, she could layout pages, a skill I never learned. She and I were the workhorses, producing the majority of the paper’s editorials that decade, so Pat Rice’s brief announcement this morning that she’s written “numerous editorials” is a bit of an understatement: she’s written many thousands, a pace ended only after the putsch of 2010.
That April all of us still on the editorial board were fired, with Krys’s exception. Krys was relegated to production and editing letters during the News-Journal’s dark age under Halifax Media, which–give it credit–presciently tuned the editorial page into an advance guard and panderer of Trump-gestating eclampsia. Halifax sold out to Gatehouse Media before the Dear Leader’s accession. Gatehouse being more interested in ideologically colorless money, the paper’s editorial page began moving from fact-denying 1933 nostalgia back to a measure of civility and journalistic coherence. Not surprisingly, Krys’s re-emergence had a lot to do with that. She redeemed the editorial page, as I expect she’ll now humanize it further.
I’m sure the whole gang from the old board is as proud and jubilant as I am, dotage permitting. Kay must be doing flips over galaxies. And Krys, this one, which you should remember me playing next-door a few times, not always with irony (my namesake wrote it after all), is for you: