Thursday, July 16, 2009

Iowa journalist Jay Wagner dies of cancer at 45

Our friend Jay Wagner died yesterday at 45, after a long battle with cancer. We quote Chase Martyn of the Iowa Independent: "A journalist for all of his adult life, Wagner grew up in northwest Iowa and edited his family’s award-winning newspaper, The N’West Iowa Review. He also worked for the Des Moines Register, The Iowan magazine and Business Publications Corp. in Des Moines. Often eager to joke around with colleagues, Wagner was known as a straight shooter in print but a witty, independent-minded conservative around friends." (Read more)

Jay covered the 2008 presidential caucuses and legislative session for the Independent, an online publication. “Jay was a terrific writer and an important early member of our Iowa team,” said David Bennahum, president and CEO of the Center for Independent Media, which funds the Independent. “His coverage of the Iowa caucuses was incisive and astute. We are very saddened by the news of his death, and send our condolences to his family and friends.” After leaving the Independent, Jay started a blog, the last posts on which were about cancer.

We valued Jay as a friend of The Rural Blog and the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, and as one of the relatively few journalists who took on the daunting mission of covering and interpreting state-level news for rural readers. And we will always remember rooting online for our respective teams, Drake and Western Kentucky, in that epic 2008 NCAA Tournament game ended with Western's three-pointer. Jay e-mailed, "Well, shit." But then he wrote, "I am numb. What a finish. I will be rooting for you. Shoots my brackets to heck AND kills the story I was writing for the Christian Science Monitor on Drake. I want a rematch."

1 comment:

Al Joens, Sioux City said...

Jay and I have been friends for more than 20 years... he in the print news media, I in broadcasting. He was the best, most solid, compassionate and fair news person I have ever met in more than two decades in the business. He could see news stories where nobody else did. A mutual friend was assignment editor at WHO TV for a while in the '90s. When he got into a pinch for story ideas, Jay was always there to point him in the right direction.

God bless you, Jay. I've always been honored to call you my friend.