Farewell, High Sheriff

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This blog has been the brainchild and vision of one person: Deputy Managing Editor Josh Tyrangiel. It was Josh who first invited me to try blogging back in January, 2007. And then, when I refused, it was Josh who ordered me to. He insisted from the start that if this was going to work, we were going to have to take the blogosphere on its own terms, making this a forum where comments would go unmoderated, posts would go unedited, and readers would know they would find debate and community and accountability.

It was a pretty scary prospect for a traditional journalist like me, whose idea of feedback had been an occasional letter to the editor, or an angry phone call from a politician. But Josh promised he would stand behind me, hold my hand when I needed it, and always be there as a sounding board. He came through every time, with judgment and good humor and wisdom that sometimes made me forget that this High Sheriff is a mere 37 years old. (And a boss, I might add, with a slightly seditious streak; he encouraged my frequent barbs at the High Sheriffs.)

Swampland is not the only place where his hand has been on the rudder when I found it hard to keep my bearings. One story in particular stands out in my mind, maybe because it is so recent and maybe because it was so hard. As I was agonizing over whether to write about my brother’s struggles to cope with a serious illness after his health insurance abandoned him, Josh was the one who told me I had to. Week in and week out, as I wrestled with the reporting and then the writing of that piece, I kept turning to Josh. He was my gut check, in dozens and dozens of conversations, most of which kept coming back to the question of how to maintain a journalist’s perspective on a story that couldn’t have been more personal. When I turned in a final version, he was the first editor to leap on it, and the one who got it over the finish line.

This morning, we got the devastating news that Josh will be leaving us to become the editor of Business Week. It’s clear proof that those folks at Bloomberg have a real eye for talent. And it’s an opportunity that Josh could not pass up. But we here at TIME will miss him. We owe him a lot. And we hope he will drop by and visit us here in Swampland. After all, he created it.