How do you feel about the merger — now that we’re over two
months into it?
A. Actually, I feel good about it. It was time to move on. I’m very
grateful to Jim Yarbrough and Q-Notes for the opportunity to put The Front
Page to rest in the best possible way. The paper’s been microfilmed
and all the debris in my office has become valuable archival material for
the southern LGBT collection at Duke. So posterity’s taken care of.
And Jim Duley, who worked with me on the paper longer than anyone, is glad
to be able to spend more time at home with his husband, I’m sure.
Come to think of it, maybe now I can get me one of those. A husband, I
mean. It’s about damn time.
What are you thoughts on the award you’re about to receive?
I was flabbergasted when Jim Yarbrough first told me about it and I’m
still flabbergasted. For starters, aren’t you supposed to be
dead or something before they name things after you? I’m flattered,
of course. But, beyond this year, it’s gratifying to know that it
will be one more way to honor other folks. There are so many who work so
hard and they deserve recognition. Add to which, it’s probably in
better taste than the memorial I was thinking of. There’s a small
park in Raleigh, called Moore Square, not far from where The Front Page
had its offices behind White Rabbit Books. On the far side of the park,
there’s a statue of Josephus Daniels, founder of the News & Observer,
raising his arm in salute to the newspaper’s building across the
street. I thought on the other side of the park there could be a statue
of me, waving vaguely in the direction of the Rabbit. But nobody seemed
to get real worked up about the idea. I can’t imagine why not.
What are you doing now and what are your future plans?
One of the pluses of my new situation is that is has made it possible
for me to go back to school. I was tired of working two jobs all the time
and, much as I love books and bookselling, my feet are just not up to it
anymore. So I’m in the master’s program in journalism at the
Newhouse School at Syracuse University. And, yes, I am the oldest person
in my class! I’m not sure where this will lead beyond, hopefully,
one job with sufficient income and the chance to sit down at least part
of the time. But it is very exciting.
It’s also sobering. I mean, if I had any pompous ideas about myself
as a journalist, I’d be suffering right now. I think it’s fair
to call me a publisher, since I did actually publish something for 26 years.
And even edit, sometimes, though not to anybody’s standards but mine
that particular day. A writer, occasionally. But a journalist? No.
Some people have said that with The Front Page gone — it’s like
the end of an era. What do you think?
I have to admit that what does come to mind is all the things The Front Page
wasn’t. I don’t mean to put the paper or myself down, I think it
was as good as time and circumstances allowed, but I wanted it to be better.
Better news writing. More letters to the editor. More local involvement. And
there are so many stories that I wanted to write, that should have been written,
that never got done. So to the people and organizations whose stories didn’t
get into the paper, I apologize.