Charles Broadwell

Publisher, The Fayetteville Observer

Fayetteville, NC

[NC-E 0101]

Like a fool in 1999, when I was the editor, and we were putting in this new press, and we had the U.S. Open golf tournament coming here, and we were planning all this end-of-the-century retrospective with big history based here, put out a huge, hundred-page sections and all this stuff that – I embarked on a series of oral history interviews. And I said, “OK. Well, I’ll do one.” And then it grew – they became 130-inch stories every Sunday in the Observer.

And it really – it took me back to my roots of why we’re here – that you’re telling these people’s stories, they’re sharing that with you and there something about the experience of allowing their words and then – I’m just kind of the shaper – that meant everything.

I eventually put [the interviews] into a book; it became these retrospectives – this slice of history here. And the response, I think – I mean I’ve covered a lot of bad stuff over the years: crime, accidents, tragedies, horrendous things – but things where people you’re interviewing – they’re brought tears. You – as supposedly this hardened journalist – that you start to tear up a little bit and then you get the response from readers like – this is somebody kinda’ putting his or her life out before the community.

And I’d say to be able to share that for 52 weeks during that year – it was a year like no other for me. I go back to that sometimes when you start to wonder or doubt about the role of the newspaper and all that. Just tell good stories, and I’ve gotta’ believe that somebody’s gonna’ want those stories, and we’ll figure out a way to take care of all this nasty business stuff.