By Dave Lieber, Fort Worth Star Telegram
I am insecure about my life as columnist.
I worry about my next column, my next error. I worry about repeating myself. I fear the next time my boss gets irritated with me.
My hate mail adds fuel to the fire, as does my lack of pay raises, people who hold grudges against me 10 years after I wrote something about them and the way every newspaper editor I ever worked for never let me do what I really want to do.
One person who recognized my efforts and really kept me going despite all of the above, is David Astor.
I started reading his work on columnists in E&P in the early 1990s. Astor was the lone regular chronicler of the insecure, always striving to be better U.S. newspaper columnist.
All these years later, I still pay $99 for an annual subscription to his magazine in sole tribute to him.
In the privacy of my home office, as a balm to soothe my constant fears, my writing desk faces an ego wall on which hang framed articles. Half are favorite magazine cover stories I wrote years ago. The others are E&P stories by Astor.
He watched and wrote about my activities as I struggled to make it as a columnist, always toying with new ideas, having fun.
Columnists Day is Coming Next Month (1997), about how former Kansas City Star columnist Bill Tammeus and I pushed for April 18 as a day to honor Ernie Pyle.
Video Columns are Created for the Net (1997), about how former NSNC Secretary Jim Boughton and I brought regular “vlogs” to slow modem-using PC’s everywhere.
Extra-Curricular Gigs Aren’t a Lot of Bull (1997), about the crazy things a columnist does to get known in his community — like bull riding.
Columnist-candidates Throw Their Press Hats Into the Ring (2000), about running for vice president with Dave Barry who was running for president.
The New Breed (2000), about being one of the hip new cats, a Marlon Brando styled columnist (OK, I exaggerate).
Watchdog Journalism Has Bite (2006), about my new columnist gig helping
When the day comes, sooner or later, and I, like David, no longer have my job, I¹ll have those framed stories on the wall. They mean nothing to anybody else. But to me, they are my security blankets, and I need them more than ever.
Thank you, David, for your stamp of validation, for me and for hundreds of others like me.
Dave Lieber, Watchdog Columnist
Fort Worth Star Telegram (Texas)