columnist, Lansing State Journal
Jim Hough is a journalist whose compassion and concern caused him to campaign for his community. For more than 25 years, Hough has been the “people’s columnist.”
Born in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in 1932, Hough began his career at the Lansing State Journal in 1958. Three years later, Hough moved his family to Lansing to become state editor. Beginning in 1962, Hough wrote more than eight thousand columns for the Journal’s “The Onlooker,” a column that gave readers a voice, advice and laughs.
One letter said Hough dedicated himself to making a change in the community: “It’s when everything else failed, when newspapers were somebody’s last resort—we could get it done.”
When an eye disease left him legally blind, his wife and colleagues read his large stacks of reader letters. Hough crusaded for the handicapped. One of those projects included an effort to transcribe reading material and textbooks into braille called “Onlooker Braille Transcribers.” He pushed a host of changes in state laws to aid people with disabilities. His work received a citation from President Richard Nixon.
Hough’s column campaigned to save Lansing’s Potter Park Zoo and also headed up a million dollar campaign to create new facilities for the Lansing Salvation Army. The organization received a new gymnasium, which they named the “Jim Hough Center.”
Hough started two Christmas Day projects. In one, Volunteers of America deliver hot Christmas dinners to the homes of elderly and shut-ins. After he brought to public attention a man who made toys year-round for kids, the Scheffel Memorial Toy Project began.
Hough retired from his Journal column in 1988. He has published two books from his thousands of columns and currently writes a monthly column, called “Right At Home,” in Michigan Country Lines. In all of his work, Hough has proven to be the model for journalism that serves the community.