Denise Ross, Cancer, And Getting The News On The Air
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Black Hills Knowledge Network

We've been down this road before.

We've been down the road where a loved one dies and (because of the circumstances of the death or the nature of their role in the community) grief is pushed from the privacy of livng rooms and chapels and locked bathroom doors. Grief splashes into the public sphere.

Denise Ross has died. A mother. A journalist.

Among her roles as a reporter, blogger, and editor for Black Hills Knowledge Network, she served for many years as an SDPB Dakota Political Junkie. No one could explain a complex or controversial issue with clarity quite like Denise. In true form, she recently sat down with us for an hour-long conversation about cancer in the hopes that others could learn from her personal journey. She was generous. She was open. During that conversation at least, she was determined not to cry.

Like many in my profession, I've written obituaries and memorials and letters-to-staff-to-explain-tragedy. I'm a writer. Writers are called upon to help others find the right words, even when the right words don't exist.

Especially when the right words don't exist.

I'm not going to write about the role of grief in community. I'm not going to write more about Denise. She was surrounded by writers. The people who knew her best now offer words of their own. My job this time is to receive those words and honor her memory and legacy.

I have no healing words to add, mostly because I'm sad. Writers (and radio broadcasters, for that matter) are allowed to be sad.

Cancer just sucks.

In the Moment broadcasts this week from the SDPB Black Hills Studio. Guests will most likely talk about Denise. Or not. Maybe they will stay home and mourn. And that's okay too. Sometimes it's all right to take care of yourself rather than get the newspaper out or the show on the air.

If you don't hear us talk about Denise Ross this week, try "listening between the lines."

Whenever we have intelligent conversations about the role of news in a shifting society, about the issues that matter in South Dakota, about cancer prevention and treatment, we're honoring Denise and the South Dakota reporters who stand for what she stands for.

Integrity. Honesty. Thoughtfulness. The First Amendment.

If you happen to tune in and hear someone crying on the radio this week, that's not something Denise would do.

That's just something the rest of us might do.