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My first thought when I read that The News & Observer is 120 years old was, “Holy cow, that’s old.” My second thought was, “Hold the coffee, I’ve been reading the paper for HALF ITS LIFE!”
My dad moved to Raleigh to work in the N&O composing room when I was a year old. It’s a morning paper, so he worked nights, often getting home near or after midnight. I liked waiting up for him, or waking up when he got home. The newspaper that he brought home literally hot off the presses, with ink that came off in your hands, was probably one of the first things I read as a boy. It was neat to read the news hours before everybody else did.
Fifty years ago next summer, I went to work in the N&O newsroom as a teenaged copyboy. I spent 10 years working there, until I joined Jim Hunt’s first campaign for Governor. I learned to write fast and short; to edit copy, lay out pages and write headlines; to cover politicians and bureaucrats. I learned to, as my mentor Bob Brooks told me, “ask ‘em the hard questions.”
(I remember when the news about the Jeffrey MacDonald family murders broke. When told that MacDonald claimed it was a gang of hippies, Brooks said gruffly, “He did it. It’s always the husband.”)
In that decade I was lucky to work with two generations of remarkable writers, reporters, editors and publishers, some living today, some gone: Pat Stith, Roy Parker Jr., Claude Sitton, Ferrel Guillory, Florence King, David Zucchino, Leslie Wayne, Jack Aulis, Rick Nichols, Peggy Payne, Al May, Woodrow Price, Grady Jefferys, Karen Tam, John Coit, Charlie and Russell Clay, Rob Christensen, Frank Daniels Jr., Sam Ragan, on and on.
The talent pool today is just as deep, even if the ranks have thinned. Today, as always, I can read the N&O and know that smart people who aren’t easily fooled are driving to get to the truth of things.
It helps, surely, that I like the paper’s editorial stands. If the editorials reeked of Fox News, my blood pressure would probably be as high every morning as the Republicans and conservatives who get apoplectic about it.
It has been a good and faithful friend for all these long years. I wish it many more. I’d hate the thought of a morning – or a world – without The News & Observer.


Posted in: General, Raleigh
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2 comments on “The N&O at 120

  1. Anonymous says:

    I still get some of my news from the N&O. Sports, Obituary, weather, and a few other facts that can’t be slanted. How do you sit on the toilet with a computer ? No I like a newspaper. Not sure I have ever met the conservatives you speak of that appoligize for Fox News, must be like those made up racist that live around every corner in North Carolina that hate Obama just because he is black, you know the same ones that read everything that Thomas Sowell writes. I guess when you spend a lifetime making up evil enemies to campaign against it begins to seem real. However everything changes and newspapers will one day go the way of the old eight track tapes.. The real problem for liberals now days is there are way too many news outlets. That makes it harder to slant what really happens. Today with the internet and cell phones we get information before the newspaper can tell us what really happened and why. Thus the need to dumb down future generations. Then they can follow blindly.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’m fairly confident that you won’t see the end of the N&O in your lifetime, Gary. And, it will remain left-leaning throughout the rest of your days, most certainly. I mean, Raleigh/Durham is becoming more and more liberal/progressive what with UNC-CH there and NC State there and what with the huge influx of liberals from out of state coming to the Research Triangle area for the many jobs being created there.

    Of course, if a sudden change were to happen and the tech jobs went overseas and if somehow the radical liberal/progressive professors in the state-supported universities started to see a problem getting grants and raises because of their liberal teachings and influence on our young people and changed their “beliefs”, things could change and the N&O might not have as much readership and advertising support.

    Not likely to happen, though. So, I think you’re safe, my friend.

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