Death really does come in threes. This week, people who care about journalism are mourning the loss of Paul Hogan, Gwen Ifill, and J.T. Rushing.

Hogan was one of our last links with an era when a kid could volunteer at the Marietta (Georgia) Daily Journal, bypass college, and rise to become the editor of the Tampa Tribune. The Grim Reaper kept a respectful distance from Hogan for three decades following his 1987 departure from the newsroom he loved, and the feisty reporters who loved him. Reading William March’s heartfelt remembrance, it’s easy to see why Hogan was squeezed out when the Trib fell in to the hands of the corporate carpetbaggers who plundered, looted, and left the paper to rot.

Death is doubly hard when it comes far, far too early, as it did for Ifill and Rushing.

Ifill’s death at 61 unleashed a torrent of genuine grief. Media bashers, no matter how hardcore, stood in line to pay tribute, along with the legions of journalists she mentored and inspired, and the audiences who trusted her implicitly. Ifill began and ended her career at news organizations where a woman of any color had to be twice as good to get half as far as her white male competitors. And still, she rose.

Rushing left the Jacksonville Times-Union years ago, and that was Florida’s loss. His byline on a story meant there was something underneath it worth your time. His death at age 45 barely registered in #TheProcess, where memories are short and turnover is high. For much of its life, the T-U was a house organ for corporate interests and deservedly disrespected by regular people. Rushing’s tenure as its Tallahassee bureau chief went a long way toward turning that around.

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