“But I hate editors!” I said to my girlfriend. “Why would I want to be one?”
This was in 1984, and I just been interviewed for a reporting job at the News & Record. I had always been a reporter; I loved being a reporter. Digging up stories, telling people the news, holding public officials accountable.
My girlfriend and I were living in Virginia Beach, and she was returning to her hometown of Greensboro to work in the family business. I was going to; by this time, she had become my fiancee. Interviewing at the News & Record made sense as newspaper journalism was what I knew.
After a day of interviews for a reporting job, my friend Cole Campbell, who was the assistant managing editor, told me that the sentiment was to offer me an assistant city editor’s job.
“He’s not a reporter,” then-associate managing editor Van King said to other editors there. “He’s an editor.”
It’s true that I didn’t like editors, having fought with them often enough at my previous paper, the News & Observer. It’s also true that I said this to my fiancee who was, herself, an editor.
She said, “Stop being an idiot. You’ll be a good editor.”
They called the next day and offered me the choice of jobs: covering public education as a reporter, or becoming the assistant city editor on the afternoon edition, meaning I’d work Tuesday through Saturday.
The editing job paid $100 more a week than the reporting job. For perspective, that was about 25 percent more than the reporting job.
I took it.