The Corner

Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, R.I.P.

The longtime editor of Reader’s Digest has died. He helped make one of America’s great magazines great — the pages of the Digest once were full of conservative values and lively reporting. He was a sharp writer, too. A couple of weeks ago, as I researched a topic I’m about to write on for National Review, I came across one of his stories and immediately was jealous: The introduction and conclusion were so good, I wish I had written them. I even complained about it to a press secretary who was driving me around: How am I going to top that? I grumbled.

I also knew Ken as a friend. When the College Fix was just a fledgling idea, he was eager to help out, getting to know a number of the young writers we recruited, giving them advice and encouragement. He gained nothing from this, except perhaps the reward of knowing he was doing a good thing.

The last time I saw Ken, he invited me to visit his farm in Virginia. I didn’t take him up on the offer, figuring there was no rush. Now it’s a reminder: Don’t let what’s urgent get in the way of what’s important.

John J. Miller is the national correspondent for National Review and the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. His new book is Reading Around: Journalism on Authors, Artists, and Ideas.

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