Small-Town Paper in Upscale Spot Georgetown Courier Editor Warren Rogers Covers News in the Shadow of Washington
Louise Sweeney, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor
WHEN reporters hunker down and talk about what they'd like to be doing someday, they're liable to mention the legendary Kansas newspaper editor William Allen White of The Emporia Weekly Gazette. Or, if they're also film buffs, it might be Kevin Kline's dream job in the movie "Violets are Blue," as editor of a weekly newspaper by the sea.
The myth is that on a weekly, deadlines are leisurely, big-city pressures don't interfere with getting the story, and you have plenty of time to polish it.
Those are the allegations. Meet Warren Rogers, brand new editor of the 2 1/2-month-old Georgetown Courier, a weekly published in what is not exactly Thornton Wilder's "Our Town" but one of the most sophisticated towns in the United States.
"This is not a giant metropolitan operation, but it is a city paper in microcosm, I guess," says Mr. Rogers. "A deadline is a deadline, and I miss 'em just the ways I've always missed 'em. You know, struggling and fighting and scratching, and you hope if you can't make it you won't be miserably late. I've always found a story is a story, and it doesn't matter whether you're covering a foreign ministers' meeting or a Boy Scout meeting. You use the same ... 'who, what, where, when, why, and how.
Rogers should know. His work as a reporter for the Associated Press took him from covering Louisiana politics and government to the State Department, White House, national politics, and international stories. He later joined the Washington bureau of the New York Herald Tribune, covering the presidency and politics, then went on to become the Hearst Newspapers Washington bureau chief and Look magazine's Washington editor. Along the way he was nominated twice for Pulitzer prizes and wrote five books, two on the Vietnam War which he covered, and two on Robert F. Kennedy. A third Kennedy book, "The Fun Days: Robert and Ethel Kennedy at Hickory Hill, a Love Story," will be published next spring.
Rogers, as a former National Press Club president and Overseas Press Club winner for overseas reporting, has attracted some celebrated bylines to The Georgetown Courier. Since the weekly began, it has been truffled with famous names: UPI's White House bureau chief Helen Thomas; retired New York Times columnist Warren Weaver Jr.; Motion Picture Association of America president Jack Valenti; former Central Intelligence Agency director William Colby; and columnist Karen Feld.
Rogers relaxes behind his editor's desk and talks about how his dream materialized. He and publisher Leonard Andrews, the businessman and art collector who recently owned the famous "Helga" collection by Andrew Wyeth, had been friends for years. Their friendship began when Mr. Andrews asked Rogers to write a weekly syndicated column, "Presidential Countdown" on the 1972 election.
"The column was pretty successful, in 80 papers probably, and some of the big papers like the New York Daily News and Chicago Tribune carried it," says Rogers. …