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Home > Publications > Quill > SDX Awards: Newspaper general column writing

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Friday, June 30, 2006
SDX Awards: Newspaper general column writing

Winner: Steve Duin — The Oregonian

By Chris Speckman

After reading Oregonian columnist Steve Duin’s writing, it’s hard not to get emotionally attached.

“His work engages emotionally with the reader, and with the person he’s writing about. That’s what good columnists do,” said the judges. “His writing is unpretentious and doesn’t get in the way of what he’s trying to say or attract attention away from his point.”

Not knowing where else to begin on this day of clouds and pink carnations, let me begin with what I believe.

I believe an absolute saint lives in a house, now a much quieter house, in North Plains.

I believe a child born 21 years ago utterly changed the world and the faith of everyone in her orbit.

I believe God speaks though wind chimes when He fears His voice might break.

This is what I believe.

And Sarah Huserik is the reason why.

Huserik was a 21-year-old girl who spent her entire existence fighting against complications caused by her premature birth. When she finally died in 2005, Duin brought her inspirational story to life.

“It takes great personal courage to take on the task of writing about the life and passing of someone as special as Sarah Huserik,” the judges said. “Mr. Duin is to be admired and commended.”

Truthfully, praise should be bestowed on Duin for taking on most of the topics he elucidates. Whether he’s writing about a teenage girl’s addiction to methamphetamine, a cancer-sufferer battling an insurance company or even just reflecting on his own children coming home for Thanksgiving, Duin’s work leaves a lasting impression.

“A seasoned columnist, Duin says what needs to be said,” said Therese Bottomly, managing editor of The Oregonian. “His column is a shard of clarity in a muddled world. He is also a writer with extraordinary range. He moves deftly from stinging commentary to personal reflection to passion for the little guy. But it is the strength of his reporting, not just his opinions, that elevates his columns to excellence.

“With Duin, readers are in good hands with the most sensitive of material. When his fine writerly touch bonds with his passionate voice, he touches readers deeply — through the heart and the mind.”


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