Q: And now you say this last time they said
this is it?
A: This is it because they can't afford the
luxury anymore of bringing someone in and
paying them $600 a week to do the work they
could do if they worked a little harder.
(laughs) Or words to that effect.
Q: That's what will happen.
A: That's what will happen.
Q: And you talked about what the page looks
like these days, more letters and fewer
editorials. What's the implication there?
Does that mean fewer resources because
letters are easy to stick in there or what?
A: Well, letters are always well read,
there's no doubt about that. It's
embarrassing to admit but they are probably
better read than editorials. So that's always
been the case. But as you say, they are
easier and we always got plenty of them. And
since they started using them as the 3rd or
4th editorial, that's because they don't have
enough time or enough people to write that
many editorials anymore.
Q: Just to wrap up John, we talked about your
ups and downs with the Register and Tribune,
but looking back how would you say your
experience was as an employee of the Des
A: I'm very happy over it. I'm happy that I
was able to be there during the 30 or 40
years when it was really at its height.
There's no doubt about that. So I consider
myself fortunate to have been there. It was a
Q: John, go ahead.
A: I always tend to emphasize the negative, I
Q: Any memorable stories that stand out that
left its mark on you in one way or another?
A: Like news stories?
Q: News stories or editorials that you may
Q: Local or otherwise?
A: Well. When I was trying out for the
editorial page in 1961 they asked me, "Do a
major op-ed piece on the three great
psychiatrists." I forgot, two of them had
just died recently I believe. Adler and Jung
perhaps, and the third one is Freud. And they
asked me to do and op-ed piece on all of
those and I knew nothing about psychiatrists
and psychiatry. But in the end I filled the
whole page with it and MacDonald thought it
was good enough and maybe I should actually
go to the editorial pages. And I did a number
of sample editorials, but that particular
big, long op-ed piece stands out.
Q: What was the gist of it?
A: Oh, just trying to weave together the
themes of how those three were different and
how they were the same.
Q: It took a considerable amount of research?
A: It took a lot of research but I had time
to do that. There was no deadline on it.
Q: With the things that you wrote about with
the McCarthy hearings, how did you gather
A: That was all from over the wires. It was
just a desk matter of sorting out what there
was and trying to make sense out of ten times
as much stuff as I could use. And it was
similar to the Korean War, which I got
involved in somewhat, too.
Q: Involved in writing about?
A: And editing, yes.
Q: And editing.
A: So you see, I got good stories from the
start on the Register.
Q: And your deadlines were always, you know,
A: I know it.
Q: What would be the time frame for writing,
you know, getting the assignment and then
having to get that to print for an editorial
like something on the Korean War or the
A: We're not talking editorials. We're
talking news stories back in the old days.
Well the copyreaders came on the job at 5:45
and the first edition went to press about
nine, so there wasn't a whole lot of time.
But for a really big story, like McCarthy,
they would call in at four o'clock for a
couple hours of overtime, so I'd have 4 1/2
hours to produce 4 1/2 columns of supposedly
readable material about all the hearings,
Q: Was that ever a stressful situation where
you felt the pressure?
A: Yes. Sometimes you knew you hadn't done as
good a job as you might have if you had had
another 1/2 hour. But you did the best you
could. Of course, you had several competing
news services providing stories. AP was the
basic but we also took UP and we had our own
Washington Bureau and we got the New York
Times in there pretty early on. There was a
lot of stuff to mull over and sort through.
Q: Those are my questions. And I appreciate
you talking with us.
A: Well, I appreciate the chance to have
talked about this. And I hope I can make the
invisible journalists a little more visible.
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