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So much more than Mrs. Sherrod Brown

One of the journalists I really respect is Connie Schultz. If you don’t know who she is, you should aquaint yourself now. (I recommend reading her book “Life Happens,” which I have an autographed copy of that if you’re nice I might let you borrow.) I’m glad she’ll be returning to the Plain Dealer now that her husband’s campaigning is over.

Why do I respect her? Well, for starters, she tells it like it is. She doesn’t sugar coat life, and she definitely isn’t afraid to step into potentially controversial subject areas. She’s one of the few things I really liked about the Plain Dealer. (I have a love/hate relationship with that paper. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to connect to it in a way I do with the Beacon. But that’s a personal issue I won’t take with their star columnist.)

Also, she’s a really nice person. I met her last summer when I was sent to cover her visit with the Hancock County Dems in Findlay. She went around the room and shook hands with each person. When she came around to me (easily the youngest person in the room by a decade, maybe more), I told her I was a reporter. She was genuinely interested. Our exchange went something like this:

Her: How long have you been with the paper?
Me: Oh, I’m only here for the summer as an intern.
Her: Where do go to school?
Me: Kent State.
Her: OH!! I went to Kent State!
Me: Yes, I know.
Her: Do you work for the Stater?
Me: Actually, I’m the editor this fall.
Her: OH!! I was editor of the Stater!

And so on. Of course I knew who Connie Schultz was. I knew she was a Pulitzer Prize winner, and that her name still held reverence as a Kent State alum. I knew more about who she was than any other person in the room that day. And I wanted to choke when she was introduced as Mrs. Sherrod Brown. I also took it as an insult when my editor removed the line about her being a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist from the story that ran. Yes she was campaigning for her husband, but that didn’t diminish who she was. If anything it lent credibility to what she said. But I digress. It wasn’t my call.

However, it was a great feeling knowing that I was following in the footsteps of an amazing woman when I took the helm at the Stater. I know plenty of former Stater editors, not just from my time there but from long before. One of them was even my feature writing professor. Being able to look to such people was an inspiration, a testament to what I could do with my degree. So much potential.

Anyway, there’s an interesting story at the PD about her balancing life as the wife of a senator with life as a columnist. Worth reading. One quote, on her role reversal:

“Connie shifted almost overnight from being a well-known, award-winning journalist and an extremely independent woman to a secondary role as the candidate’s spouse,” explained Brown’s communications director, Joanna Kuebler. “It was like walking around in somebody else’s shoes.”

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