Publishing Institute Post #1: Opening Day, And The Great Peter Osnos

16 Jul


On July 14th, 2013, the Denver Publishing Institute had it’s orientation. One day later (more like 19 hours, 15 minutes, and 24 seconds but who’s counting?) we had our official Opening Breakfast. During which the wonderful Joyce Meskis, head of the program, was accompanied by Governor John Hickenlooper in the introductory speech. To say I was both honored and amazed would be a massive understatement as the Colorado Governor took the time out his busy schedule to laud and applaud our aspirations.

As if this weren’t an already phenomenal start to our program, our first lecture was held by none other than Peter Osnos.

Peter Osnos

Now if the name above leaves you scratching your head, it’s okay. This man would rather dedicate his life to producing and publishing quality over being a public figure. He’s a man who’d rather have his legacy do the talking, and what a legacy he has!

Having worked for the Washington Post for 18 years, he went on to become the Editor At Large of the publishing house Public Affairs. In addition to this he:

  • Became the Vice Chairman to the Columbia Journalism Review
  • Managed the Caravan Project as the Executive Director.
  • Was a Bureau Chief (aka in charge of the news) in Indochina and London.
  • Is a member on the Council of Foreign Relations
  • Worked as a Moscow Correspondent during the Cold War.

In spite of this some of his greatest achievements came from his time as the Editor At Large. Chances are you’ve never noticed something with his name, since most editors go unnoticed. Nevertheless if you’ve heard of:

This guy,


This dude,


This Lady,


This woman,

Molly Ivins

And this individual,


Then keep in mind these are but a few of the people he has worked with personally. Throughout his career as the Editor At Large, he was the one these fine men and women turned to when they wanted their stories told. Hence, if you’ve seen these books in your local Barnes & Noble:

e6821af208_51N8M2PQ6GL Dreams_From_My_Father  Between_Hope_and_History_(Bill_Clinton_book)_cover_art

Then know that Peter Osnos was the man who helped channel the voices of these public giants.

And yet, in spite of his pedestal, crafted from years of hard work and dedication, the man was remarkably humble. Rather than talk about himself during his lecture, he talked about the people with whom he worked. He regaled the class with lessons he learned from working with these people. From meeting and learning about President Regan through his wife’s musings, to the sleeper hit that was Obama’s book, he spared no detail in these stories all with the hope that it will help us be better publishers.

I could write for several more pages about his lecture, but for the sake of keeping this from becoming a novel I’ll leave it with a quote.

“There is no substitute for the conscientiousness of a good editor… or the value of a dedicated sales team. We are here to serve.”

In a previous posting, you may recall that I claimed Editors to be like waiters or coaches. From the sincerity of Peter Osnos’ words, to the actions and meetings I’ve had with the people of this institute, I can honestly say this is nothing but the truth.

With a final kernel of wisdom, and an uplifting message, Peter Osnos concluded our first lecture by reminding us of why we chose this profession, and how to continue from there. For that I will always be grateful, for both his wisdom and the opportunity this institute provides.

So this is my first post on the Publishing Institute. For the next four weeks expect updates regarding information relevant to what the Institute is teaching. If you wish to know anything, or wish for me to focus on anything in particular, drop a message in the comments below. Otherwise, stick around! I promise it will be worth your while.

Until next time.

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Posted by on July 16, 2013 in Publishing Institute


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