On my first mentor, Henry Fuhrmann
Senior Recruiter Sonali Kohli here. I want to talk to you this week about the joy of having and being a mentor, and the grief of losing a mentor. I want to talk to you in particular about Henry Fuhrmann, who was my first journalism mentor. Henry died earlier this month at the age of 65, a few years after entering semi-retirement. He had so much left. Henry and I met when I was an extremely eager (perhaps too eager) student at the University of California - Los Angeles [UCLA]. As an undergraduate, I went to the Los Angeles Times building downtown every chance I could — for everything from tours to events and panels. At one such panel, I met Henry, who was an assistant managing editor overseeing the copy desk. At our college newspaper, the Daily Bruin, we were grappling with a decision (remember that this was circa 2011): my editor and I wanted to honor a source's request to use they/them pronouns in a story, which we'd never done. Neither had the Los Angeles Times, yet. But Henry believed in respecting a person's identity and using language as a tool to do that. He told me that journalists must strive for accuracy, and it is reasonable to deduce that the name or pronouns a person uses for themselves are the most accurate. He supported our decision to respect the source's identity and then used the Bruin as an example when the LA Times had that conversation about pronouns not long after.