Columnist For An Audience Of One p.52

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By: David Noack How Arizona Republic columnist David Leibowitz used
drop-cap typography to give new meaning to the term, 'Love Letters'

A COLUMNIST FOR the Arizona Republic used the most public of places to pose the most private of questions: his column to ask his girlfriend to marry him.
David Leibowitz, 33, who pens a thrice-weekly column for Arizona's largest daily newspaper, decided to take the literary license that comes with his particular brand of writing and proposed to Kellee Stooks, 29. The answer was "yes." An early November wedding is planned.
When readers of the Republic flipped through their newspaper on June 6, a Saturday morning, to see who or what Leibowitz was taking to task that day, they were probably surprised to find a kinder, gentler column, filled with personal thoughts and romantic recollections.

'Editor, for life'
The column, headlined "Wanted: Editor, for life" summarized the relationship between Leibowitz and Stooks: (a.k.a. "the blond with all the curls") how she knows just what to say and when to say it, how they met, their first movie. The couple met three years ago.
But if readers were looking for the column to finish with the traditional ". . . and will you marry me," they missed the forest for the trees. The question, "Marry Me Kellee?" was spelled out alongside most of the paragraphs in the column, using "drop caps" ? those BIG letters that begin a paragraph or sentence.
The "drop cap" idea was borrowed from fellow columnist, E.J. Montini, when he used the same technique in a January 1996 column about the 1996 Super Bowl game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys. Montini, a native of western Pennsylvania, spelled out "Go Steelers."
Leibowitz, who had been preparing to pop the question, decided that his column would be the best way. He wrote the column on Friday, June 5, and wrapped it up by about 6 p.m., his usual deadline.
John D'Anna, deputy managing editor at the Republic, said that it was no secret in the newsroom what Leibowitz's column would be about that day.
"He had talked to me about proposing to Kellee. He had bought the ring. I said to do it in your column and he said he had been thinking about that," said D'Anna.
"It was something that I had thought about for a long time. Everybody looks for a special way to propose. You want it to be something that is memorable and to be something that you can talk about in 50 years and that was something that I can do that very few other people could," said Leibowitz, a former reporter for the Tribune in Mesa.
He said the theme of the column was "asking questions."

Writing for an audience of one
"I don't write about myself very frequently. Every once in a blue moon I throw it in there to let people into my life a little bit. I wanted to get a little bit in there about her, a little bit about me, the relationship, but most of it I was writing for Kellee. That's a selfish thing to say, but I was writing for an audience of one," said Leibowitz.
In putting together his column, Stooks usually acts as a sounding board for his ideas and prose. But not this time. It just so happens that she was on a business trip out of state.
"I didn't fly completely solo. I had my editor to look it over. He wasn't too jazzed about wanting to change my wedding proposal. It was actually kind of liberating. I really didn't even get edited," said Leibowitz, who has been at the Republic for two years.

Wrapped ring in newspaper
Leibowitz, who said he had a hard time sleeping that night, got the paper before dawn and taped the engagement ring to the inside of the newspaper and started to read the column to Stooks. The more he read, the more interested she became. He got down on both knees and popped the question.
Stooks, a regional marketing officer with the Bank of America, said she was not surprised that he proposed via the column, because he had talked about it.
"I was pleased but not completely surprised. I love the way he did it. I love the way he spelled the words going down. I think that was creative and I particularly like that part of it," said Stooks.
"It was a wonderful way because no one else can really do it that way. There are very few people who would be able to do it in a newspaper and he had that flexibility, so it was very uniquely him," said Stooks.
Propane

?(Arizona Republic columnist David Leibowitz and the woman he proposed to in his column, Kellee Stooks, who is now his fianc?e.) [Photo & Caption]
?(Editor & Publisher Web Site: http://www.mediainfo.com) [Caption]
?(copyright: Editor & Publisher June 20, 1998) [Caption]

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