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Fábregas: Scaife's values will live on

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Friday, July 4, 2014, 9:47 p.m.

When Hillary Clinton stepped into the Trib's offices in March 2008, Dick Scaife shook her hand firmly and smiled. I watched in awe because I intuitively recognized the significance of the moment. He was a conservative fireball, she a bastion of liberalism.

I sat in the back of the conference room and marveled at history being made. Sitting across from each other, Scaife and Clinton conversed like old friends. There was passion and warmth in their exchange, but, above all, I witnessed a smart, honest discussion between two people who love our country.

I had the opportunity to ask Clinton a question about an investigative series that had just been published in our newspaper about liver transplants. She answered politely and later shook my hand as she toured the newsroom and I tried to make small talk, asking her about her fondness for “Dancing With the Stars,” something I'd read in a magazine.

Clinton's visit broke barriers in the same way that Dick Scaife broke barriers most of his life. When I heard about his death early Friday, it struck me that the newspaper you hold in your hands and the stories my colleagues write every day are a central part of his legacy.

In May, Scaife wrote a poignant and memorable column that, in addition to disclosing his battle with cancer, recounted his love of newspapers. It reminded me of my own love of newspapers. I still like to read the print version with my morning coffee. Like him, I like to read groundbreaking investigations that reveal secrets and make government and businesses accountable. And I am a sucker for a well-written narrative with strong verbs, colorful characters and powerful pictures.

Scaife was a fearless champion of journalism. He gave us the resources and tools to produce, to create, to inform, to question. Although he came from a family of power and money, he shared the same worries and dreams that all of us have: to challenge ourselves to overcome barriers; to speak up for those who lack a voice; and to build a better world where it doesn't matter whether we're conservative or liberal.

Several years ago, I wrote a series about a little girl with terminal brain cancer. She'd been given six months to die but today is still alive. When the story won a national award, I received a congratulatory note from Scaife. I still have the note, dated June 28, 2001. I found it on Friday in a bin filled with old newspapers, a reminder that even simple words carry deep, long-lasting meaning: “I look forward to many years together,” he wrote.

This column began about three years ago at his request. Health and medical issues were always important to him. I've written about topics that resonate with all of us as individuals, as parents, as sons and daughters. I've been able to do so because Dick Scaife had vision, courage and a lot of heart. His love of journalism and good story-telling is evident in many of the stories and investigations that I've been part of during my 17 years working for this company.

There's one thing you need to know about our newsroom, on the off chance that you can't tell by reading our stories. We're a determined bunch. We will continue to do our jobs with pride, integrity and commitment to journalism. That's the way our leader would have wanted.

Luis Fábregas is Trib Total Media's medical editor.

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