What I remember most of LJM was her focus. She would gingerly walk into the newsroom anytime between 6 and 8 p.m. Then she would sit down in her chair—located right in the beating heart of the newsroom—and then work, nonstop, on the paper till it was ready for printing.
This would take as long as needed. She never hurried. She read the stories and looked at page 1 over and over again. She would tell the art director what she wanted. She would look at stories she was interested in.
I had never seen anything like it. If you needed to consult with her, interview her or just bother her with something during this time, you were plumb out of luck. “No,” she would invariably say. “When I’m finished.”
It didn’t matter who was asking or why, you were going to take a back seat until she was done with editing. But here’s the thing: You had to wait. You see, she remembered whoever was asking to see her. You knew you should wait until “LJM time” (that would usually be around 1 a.m.).
You could see her looking over the shoulder of the editorial production assistant, checking each story head, until she was completely satisfied. And everybody worked hard until she was satisfied. Then, she would walk back to her chair and, one by one, call on those people who had asked to see her. Then, during “LJM time,” she would consult, answer questions and attend to you, as long as necessary, until everyone had been dealt with.
You absorbed her wisdom. You relished her humor. On slow days, she would sometimes sit at her desk, in a virtually empty newsroom, looking at stories that could possibly be used for future issues.
She made the paper a priority and had the generosity to talk to you for however long it took—as long as the paper had been put to bed. This is what I will always remember: It always paid to wait for LJM, no matter how long it took.