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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Virginius Dabney, July 31, 1975. Interview A-0311-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Owners, not editors, determined a newspaper's political views

The notion that an editor's ability to write their political feelings freely depended largely on the newspaper owners is repeated several times in the interview. Even though Dabney harbored different views from the owners of the <cite>Times-Dispatch</cite>, he felt that the owners should determine the direction of the newspaper.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Virginius Dabney, July 31, 1975. Interview A-0311-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

WILLIAM H. TURPIN:
Did you ever editorially argue against closing schools or warn about the possibility of closing schools?
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
I don't think that I ever did. I would like to have. I would like to have gone after Prince Edward because of what they did, but I never was able to do it.
WILLIAM H. TURPIN:
This was one of the times when your hands were pretty much tied?
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
Yes. I would like to say that I was not permitted to say exactly what I wanted, in all fairness to Bryan and Donnahoe, if I were the owner of a newspaper and had control of it, I would feel that I was the one to decide what the paper was to say on something that I felt very deeply about. In other words, if I felt as Mr. Bryan did about massive resistance, I would not have wanted the editor to go off in the opposite direction and have the influence of this paper that I owned asserted contrary to what I believed in. So, I didn't feel that I had any deep grievance against Mr. Bryan. I was very sorry that we didn't agree, but I think that most newspaper people would be in agreement that there isn't any way to operate a newspaper except for the owner who has the majority of the stock to have the final say when he is deeply involved in some public question. That is one of the sad things about being an editor, unless you own 51% of the stock, you can't do everything that you want to do. I was given freedom on many things, and to say things that Mr. Bryan didn't agree with. In this particular one, he felt so deeply about it that he didn't give me the freedom.