What a shock that Broadcasting & Cable‘s business editor John M. Higgins is gone at the age of 45 (Monday night, of a heart attack). Like most good journalists, he had a way of establishing an instant and easy intimacy with people, and that extended to colleagues in the scribbling biz. What brought us together, so to speak, was my LA Weekly column (November 2004) spanking the Los Angeles Times’ resident brat, Joel Stein. Wrote Higgins: “Hmmm, I’m not sure I’ve EVER agreed with you more than this column. ‘Whoring after youth???’ Nah, just whoring. I don’t think even youth reads Joel Stein’s crap. I totally don’t understand the appeal…” Like most journalists who work for trades, John knew a lot more than he ever shared with his readers. He was an astute analyst of journalism as a profession, too, as he wrote me in July: “The media beats of the NY Times, WSJ and LA Times aren’t really the prestigious places they once were. They’ve become pretty awful places to work. Sure, they’re great megaphones. But as the financial prospects of newspapers wane, the abused children on the top of the masthead in turn abuse their own children. The big papers have always been intense, competitive places where navigating internal politics was at least as important as developing tremendous sources. The difference today is that there’s no promise of a glowing future if you succeed. You get thinned from the herd, even if you’re a creative, clever reporter. Name the last media beat reporter at the major dailies to go off to a great job somewhere else, one that you were jealous of?” This is the 2nd journalism colleague I knew pretty well to pass away this year before his time. (Garry Abrams was felled by cancer in August.) The good die too young.