Monday, July 09, 2007

Spencer Heinz: A treasure at The Oregonian

I don’t pay much attention to by-lines when I set out to read a news or feature story. But there comes a time in an Oregonian story, usually around the third or fourth paragraph, when I know that I am reading prose crafted by Spencer Heinz.

It happened again Sunday in Spencer’s profile of Elmer Buehler, 96, who once chauffeured Woody Guthrie around the Northwest, helping the songwriter find inspiration for immortal songs.

Somebody should do a profile of Heinz. I won’t do it here, but readers should know that Spencer, a gracious man, is painfully self-effacing about his work. He always credits the story and never his role as storyteller. Which is why he is such a great teller of stories.

He has visited my PCC writing class two or three times. He always inspires in his quiet, understated way.

In my view, Spencer Heinz is a journalistic treasure. Watch for his by-line. No, better yet, when you are moved by writing in The Oregonian, check out the by-line. If your experience is at all like mine, more often than not it will read, “By Spencer Heinz.”

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Blogger e. said...

I live in Austin, TX and cover the healthcare industry for; I just came across an article Spencer Heinz wrote, entitled "Angel singing in the wings," simply about a cleaning woman at Emanuel-Legacy Hospital. Mr. Heinz certainly has a way with injecting poetry into something otherwise mundane and hand-feeding his readers the inspiration they need. Or at least, this reader.

1:21 PM  
Anonymous Sam Churchill said...

NOTE: I wanted to send Spencer Heinz a thankyou note but his old Oregonian email ( no longer works. I hope you or someone else could forward it on.

Hi Spencer:

I just want to say how much I enjoyed your beautifully crafted human interest stories. Your story in today's Oregonian (Dec 16, 2007), reminded me to thank you. Your magic touch showcased real-life and made me aware of the extraordinary stories all around me.

Your work was a celebration. A treasure. Thanks also for providing inspiration for so many others.

I hope you get permission from the Oregonian to create a book from your body of work. I'm sure it would be popular -- especially during the holidays. Why not include a CD, too.

Here's how to use Soundslides (, which The Oregonian has used before:

Anyway, I just wanted to say your work is pure gold.

Happy retirement!

- Sam Churchill
Portland, OR


1:11 PM  

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