David Whiting competes during the 10th anniversary celebration of the Over the Hump Mountain Bike race series at Lakeview Park in Orange on Tuesday, August 13, 2019. (File photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Allen S. Whiting and son David Whiting tour the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda. Allen Whiting was formerly the head of the Far East division in the State Department’s Intelligence and Research branch. (File photo by Cindy Yamanaka, Orange County Register/SCNG)
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The Rev. Mark Whitlock, left, makes a beeline to Orange County Register columnist David Whiting to give condolences on his dad’s passing. With his wife, Lindsay, by his side, Whiting was recognized for his work with the Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major Award at Irvine’s Christ Our Redeemer AME church Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018. (File photo by Cindy Yamanaka, Orange County Register/SCNG)
The Whitings, from left: Alice Whiting (mom), Jennifer Holcomb (sister), David Whiting, and Allen (father) in 2006 during the Boston Marathon. (File photo courtesy of David Whiting)
Lindsay Whiting, left, and columnist David Whiting take a break after completing a journey of more than 160 miles with more than 20,000 feet of elevation gain. (File photo courtesy David Whiting)
Orange County Register columnist David Whiting discusses teen suicide on the TBN program “Taking Care of Business.” (File photo courtesy of James Langteaux)
Columnist David Whiting partners with Santa Ana Police detective Duane Greaver to test out the department’s new virtual training system in Santa Ana on Monday, August 20, 2018. (File photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Orange County Register columnist David Whiting at the summit of Mt. McKinley in Alaska in 2006. (Photo by Max Bitner)
David Whiting, Orange County Register columnist, combs through the Big Bear cabin standoff spot where Christopher Dorner died in a fire after law enforcement chased him down. The columnist found a couple of melted items in the dirt Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018. (File photo by Cindy Yamanaka, Orange County Register/SCNG)
David Whiting surveys the scene near where Monica Quan and her fianceŽ, Keith Lawrence, were found shot dead in Lawrence’s car outside their Irvine apartment complex five years ago, on February 2, 2013. Quan, a women’s basketball assistant coach at Cal State Fullerton, was the daughter of Randal Quan, a former Los Angeles Police Department captain and lawyer who formerly represented Christopher Dorner during Dorner’s dismissal hearing from the LAPD. Lawrence was a campus public safety officer. Photographed Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. (File photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)
On Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017 columnist David Whiting, left, visited with his father, Allen S. Whiting, 91, who was just diagnosed with the flu virus and discovered area hospitals were in the midst of a flu spike. His column was the first to alert the Southland about the issue. His father died days later. (File photo courtesy of David Whiting)
Lucas Oil’s Mike Wiskus flies his Pitts Special stunt plane with Orange County Register columnist David Whiting over Orange County, CA, on Wednesday, Oct 17, 2018. (File photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)
With this being my final column, it’s only proper to thank the people who made my 45 years of journalism possible and, sorry beloved colleagues, that would be you, our readers.
For the last three decades, I have had the honor to serve Orange County and more recently — thanks to the Southern California News Group — much of the Southland, and that has been both a joy and love.
But more than anything, it has been an opportunity to get to know an incredible range of people, often during one of the most incredible times in their lives. It also has allowed me to discover some amazing places.
I’ll share a few epic go-and-dos in a minute. But for now, allow me to share about my industry’s increasingly misunderstood mission.
As journalists, our job is to dig deep, do our research and ask anything that is on point. At the same time, the people we talk to can decide if they want to answer.
Along with reporting news, we serve as conduits for people’s hopes and dreams as well as their struggles. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, we are tasked with the sacred privilege of communicating the information without fear or favor.
As a boyhood hero of mine once sang, “It’s how you ride the trail that counts.”
Rather than being the enemy of the people, in truth we are the opposite. Our mission, when done right, is to provide information that allows people to make their own decisions. In turn, shared information helps connect community.
The only side for any honest reporter, photographer, graphic artist and editor is the reader’s side.
I’m sure that I sometimes failed you (John Wayne Airport anyone?). But as a columnist, I am paid to have a point of view. My friends on the hard news side do not have that luxury.
Unfortunately in these contentious times, some try to blur the line between fact and opinion. But they shouldn’t waste their time. Readers are too smart for that silliness.
Consider what reader “Richard Savy” shared online a few days ago: “David, I haven’t always agreed with your columns or point of view and at times I thought you were terribly misguided. However, you always wrote with passion and a firmness of conviction.
“Thanks for the years of dedicated hard work and best of luck in retirement, and it’s my guess that you’ll be back every so often.”
Thank you, Mr., um, Savy. And I will add that if someone agreed with all of the more than 1,000 columns I’ve written, they should be declared insane. Even Mom told me I sometimes blew it.
Additionally, I would be remiss if I didn’t call out the rumors that journalism is dying. Untrue. But it is changing and in many respects, it’s better than ever.
When I first got into the news biz, we published only on paper. Today, we report real news in real time and that matters.
As fires raged across the Golden State these last few weeks, people read the latest news online, examined ever-moving fire line maps and watched videos that helped save countless homes and lives.
As an editor once said, “We have more tools in our toolbox.”
OK, enough preaching. Let’s check out some of my favorite things to do.
If you’ve read my columns for the last few decades, you know that I like to do what I call “stupid stuff.” So far, stupid has meant running six consecutive near-marathons across the Rocky Mountains, mountain biking with wild animals in Africa, climbing the close-to-vertical East Buttress on Mount Whitney and summiting in freezing temperatures and well after dark (seriously stupid).
Stupid means competing in Ironman triathlons, sailing Newport-Ensenada in a storm as waves sloshed into the cockpit, swimming with seals off Laguna Beach and forgetting the cute critters are shark food, crawling through narrow and watery slot canyons in Utah, climbing the highest mountains in Africa and North and South America, racing horses in the backcountry.
But there are cheaper and closer to home adventures that are as good or better.
Run for the Wall
This one is so amazingly awesome, I’ve been giving presentations to various groups ever since I made the run.
If you are a veteran and have a motorcycle, you are ready. If you don’t have a big boy bike, get one. And if you’re not a veteran, come along for the ride and support our veterans.
For nearly two weeks, you ride for freedom across this great nation with thousands of veterans on a mission to honor those who can’t ride.
But it’s not only about welcoming home veterans. The farther I traveled, the more I realized the ride unveils a country too many of us have forgotten yet is right here before us.
In scores of small towns, hundreds of people turned out, lining streets, saluting and waving the Stars and Stripes. Although often strapped for funds, they dug deep, paying for gasoline and cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner.
In the end, Run for the Wall is about patriotism and rediscovering what it means to be an American.
For more: RFTW.us
Four mountain ranges — the San Bernardinos, San Gabriels, Santa Monicas and Santa Anas — grace Southern California and that means that no matter where you live, you can venture into the wild and be home by dinner.
If you’re already a hiker, go farther, try a new trail, hike a little higher. Better yet, invite someone who’s not a hiker to go with you. You will see new things with their fresh eyes and they will have a memory that will last a lifetime.
There are many online suggestions. For an easy-to-use site: SoCalHiker.net
Walk the block
I’ll admit I’m not much of a hiker. Heck, I’m not even much of a walker. But my wife and I have started walking the neighborhood and — guess what — walking isn’t just healthy. It’s fun and interesting. Who knew?
Driving, you miss the trees for the forest, the landscape and critters such as birds, squirrels and, hey now, coyotes.
Tip: Carry a bottle of water even if you don’t need it. You will.
Better tip: Hold hands.
By the time you read this, it’s likely my Southern California News Group email is canceled. If you feel like getting in touch, email@example.com.
In parting, I’ll leave you with something that same boyhood hero of mine left me with: “Happy trails to you, until we meet again.”
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