Wednesday, July 29, 2009

David Hawpe retiring after 40 years at Louisville paper; fought to keep its state, rural coverage

"David Hawpe, an unrepentant liberal who spent much of his professional life railing against what he considered to be the coal industry's excesses and as an advocate for the underprivileged, especially in his beloved Appalachia, is retiring after 40 years with The Courier-Journal," effective Aug. 14, R.G. Dunlop reported for the Louisville newspaper.

Hawpe, 66, started working for the paper in its Eastern Kentucky Bureau at Hazard and rose to become editor, but kept paying close attention to the region, where he spent his preschool years. He "regularly wrote with passion about the complex mix of beauty, poverty, challenge and opportunity that is Eastern Kentucky," wrote Dunlop, another veteran of the Hazard bureau, now closed. Executive Editor Bennie Ivory called Hawpe "an iconic figure at the newspaper and in the state and region" and "the voice and conscience of The Courier-Journal." (Read more)

In 1996, Hawpe became editorial director, overseeing the editorial pages, but as a company vice president was the point man for efforts to maintain the paper's rural coverage and circulation. The C-J was one of the last papers to abandon statewide coverage, about three years ago. Its state circulation gradually dwindled, starting before Gannett Co. Inc. bought the paper from the Bingham family in 1986. It would be hard to thank David enough for all he's done for Appalachia, Kentucky, journalism, the newspaper and this writer, who once worked there and still writes a column, begun at David's invitation. May the road rise to meet you, old buddy.

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