Remembering Long Time Lansing Columnist Jim Hough

Oct 9, 2017

One of Lansing’s favorite writers has died. Jim Hough wrote the daily column called “The Onlooker” for the Lansing State Journal for a quarter of a century. He died early Monday at the age of 85 after a short illness.


John Schneider worked with Hough for 11 years before assuming the mantle of “The Onlooker” in 1988. He wrote the column for the next 24 years.

Schneider says the Journal ran Hough's column on the front page of the local section six days a week. "It was a little bit of schmaltz," he recalls, "a lot of cornball Yooper humor."

Hough also took up causes and wrote about little stories like ducklings caught in sewer grates, the little stories that Schneider says "make life so rich."

Schneider says newcomers to the paper often wondered "what is this? Why do they allow this guy to keep doing this? Then," he continues, "they would see the readership survey numbers, and Jim Hough was always the best-read thing in the paper."

There aren't many writers with Hough's style these days. Schneider concludes that he doesn't know if Hough's work is from an era that has passed by, but "for the time, it was exactly what people wanted."