A veteran reporter and newspaper columnist, Marc Munroe Dion is an old-school newsman who fell out of a Frank Capra movie, complete with pipe and fedora.
Born in the struggling former cotton mill town of Fall River, Mass., Dion spent his childhood moving around the country with his sharp-witted Irish-American mother and his French-Canadian father, both of them chasing the work that left their hometown.
As a teenager in Missouri, Dion dominated his high school debate team and in 1975 was the No. 5 ranked high school orator in America.
The fascination with words continued, as Dion worked his way through college and graduate school as a laborer, bartender and janitor, publishing his first book, a collection of poetry, along the way. He never forgot the people he met at work, or the threadbare, funny stories they told him on loading docks and in bars.
After working for The Associated Press, the Kansas City Star and the Providence Journal as a writer, book reviewer and columnist, he accepted a job on The Herald News, a daily in his hometown of Fall River, Mass., where he found more working people with stories to tell and became aware, in his own words, that "the working class is being hunted out of this country like coyotes."
Dion's column, called "Living and Dion," has appeared Mondays in The Herald News for 17 years. During that time, he has won 24 writing awards not only for his column but for editorial writing and for newspaper stories chronicling the history of Southern New England. He won the New England News Press Association award for Serious Column back to back, in 2010 and 2011.
A loudmouthed independent who still works as a general assignment reporter covering crime, local government and what he calls "the stuff on page 3," Dion says his column is informed, freshened and connected to reality by his daily work as a reporter in a city of 90,000 people.
"Conservatives want to take away your union card," he says. "Liberals want to take away your guns. Why should anyone have to choose one or the other?"
Tough-minded and unrepentantly working class, Dion's sense of humor sounds more like a barroom than a newsroom, and his political observations are more concerned with issues than political parties.
Dion lives in a 105-year-old three-floor apartment house with his wife Deborah, who is also a reporter, and two cats, one of whom, Nomew, is so named because he cannot make a noise and the other, Smokey, who weighs 30 pounds and is named for his gray fur.
"We own the house," Dion says. "We live on one floor and rent out the other two. It's the only way two reporters can pay a mortgage and still have money left for food."
At 52, Dion says there is one job in journalism he does not want.
"I don't want to chronicle the death of the working class," he says.
You can read more of Dion columns in his new ebook, "Between Wealth and Welfare: A Liberal Curmudgeon in America"