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Remembering old friends

Bill Ritter's daily take on the news.
February 25, 2013 1:57:04 PM PST
We are all on borrowed time. We tend not to think about it too much, because, really, how could we function otherwise? But it's hard to ignore it, and sometimes the reality hits us like a ton of bricks.

Two former colleagues have died in the past 4 days - one on Friday, the other this morning. I worked with both in the San Diego bureau of the Los Angeles Times - at a time when we were all filled with youthful energy and optimism, a time when we were coming into our own as adults and journalists. We had the world by the egg nests, or so we thought.

Mark Saylor was a tough-as-nails editor with a giant heart, and Barry Horstman was a talented reporter whose sweetness and humor sometimes masked his shark-like ability to grab a story by the neck and not let go till he found the truth.

Mark was 58 and one of the top crisis PR execs in the country when his 10-month fight against brain cancer ended Friday. Barry was 60 when his life ended just when his day was beginning this morning, at his desk at the Cincinnati Post.

As we did with the death of the man who hired all of us 3 decades ago? Dale Fetherling ? former Times staffer have reflected and mourned and commiserated on Facebook. It's a soothing process ? all of us reaching out and touching each other, lives that have been touched by these fine men. We mourn them and think of their families. And, on point, we realize our own mortality.

So I'm thinking of Mark and Barry, who taught me so much about tenacious reporting, as we prep our newscasts for tonight. They each good naturedly busted my chops when I left print news for broadcast news. And I loved them for it, because it helped keep me focused.

But dang, it's hard to keep focused tonight.

Now to tonight's 11 p.m. effort.

We'll have the latest on the latest fiscal cliff in Washington, another deadline looming for this Friday - Thursday at midnight - and like the tax hikes on Jan. 1, these spending cuts (sequestration is the official name) are sparking much debate.

Can we afford to cut 2.5 percent from the country's spending? Anyone who's had to slash expenses at home knows the answer is "yes." But then we hear the services set to be slashed - vaccines for school kids who can't afford them, the health fund for 9-11 first responders, some military personnel cuts - and the debate begins.

Also at 11, it seems at first like something out of James Dean movie, kids drag racing. But this time it's real - and happening on the streets of Newark. Our Phil Lipof takes a closer look, and wait till you see what these guys (and they're mostly guys) are doing.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast and word of another storm heading our way, and Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER

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