Former editor bids farewell to Lamb, wishes her well in future career
Reporters and public affairs folks have long held a mutual distrust of each other.
We’re supposed to ferret out the truth and cut through spin. Public affairs professionals are designed to promote their client and put that organization or person in the most favorable light. Our missions often clash.
But today, I write to praise Margaret Lamb, one of my all-time favorite people and the university’s longtime spokeswoman. She is leaving USC for a great career opportunity at the Georgetown Hospital System and will fulfill a lifelong dream of hers to live near the ocean. She deserves this and much more.
Margaret never lied. Sure, she’d present the facts in USC’s favor, but she always told the truth, even if it was particularly unpleasant for the university. She always returned calls and regularly worked 60- to 70-hour weeks.
She is smart and savvy. On several occasions, I’d write a story and realize the next day that she had subtly turned a negative aspect into a more positive one for the university. Above all, her kindness shined in every aspect of life. Margaret always wanted to know how you were, how your classes were and what you were doing next.
Those with institutional knowledge, vast intellect and an ability to care about others are exceedingly rare at the university. In recent months, both Margaret and former lobbyist Casey Martin have departed. Both losses are troublesome for an institution that must always navigate tricky waters. They can’t be replaced with millions of tweets, no matter how good they are.
Provost Michael Amiridis called Margaret “professional, even-keeled, pleasant and effective.” Peggy Binette, her longtime confidante in USC’s media relations office, praised her deep dedication and brilliant advice. Charles Bierbauer, dean of USC’s journalism school, said she often provided steady guidance.
I could add a few more praises, but instead I’ll tell a few stories.
My late-night calls to Margaret would often be interrupted by pesky pooches. She’d start answering my questions, and I’d hear a familiar yell.
“Jackson, get my shoe out of your mouth,” she’d yell at her dog, putting me on a brief hold. “Hold on Josh. He keeps eating my shoes, and he won’t listen.”
I always wanted to quote her as “Margaret Lamb said, in between battling dogs.”
She made delicious eggnog and had me over to her home when I left as editor-in-chief. Over three hours, she and her husband, Bob, regaled me with funny stories and insightful wisdom.
“Josh, you know I don’t like lying in the sun. But I love to walk and drink on the beach, and you can join me,” she told me recently.
That’s an offer I fully plan to accept. And Margaret, when you live on the beach, you won’t even need shoes.