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Legacy Scholar Grant
The Page Center will award grants to support scholars and professionals making important contributions to knowledge, practice or public understanding of ethics and resposibility in public communication or other principles of Arthur W. Page.
Penn State Live
INTERVIEWER: So once you were in a position to hire people, what would you look for, in your reporter?
CURLEY: In terms of conversations you could probably determine, I don’t mean in five-minute conversation, but you could probably determine whether those people were ambitious, solid, ethical to the best that you could determine that they were, wanted to do a good job and had some experience. I don’t mean just college experience, but had shown in college that they had had internships done x, y and z and were ready to work for a newspaper size of 50,000. AP, of course, you’ve got people that worked other places so that wasn’t that big a guess as to whether they could do it.
INTERVIEWER: Did you ever have to discipline or fire anybody for an ethical lapse or gross ethical violation?
CURLEY: Jesus…we fire people who just didn’t make it because they weren’t strong enough either as writers or reporters. It had nothing to do with ethics but…the only case I recall was an intern, when I was working at the Bridgewater Courier News. An intern from Rutgers who, he was quite good, quite smart and, I think he went into government after he got out of school but he went out on the Republican campaign, we sent him out to cover some republican event and he was going to cover the Democratic and he was going to get those secondary political assignments during the summer, the stuff that went on at night so that the guy that mainly covered the big stuff or the debates, didn’t have to do all that. And this student wanted to do it and he was quite good, he had established that he could do this kind of work. But he went down to a Republican rally and started telling them—I got it backward—he went to the Republican rally, covered it okay, but then went to the Democratic rally and told them what the Republicans were doing and what they were up to, so he got himself involved in the process so because he was an intern, we just told him, you know, you should have known better, we didn’t anticipate he’d do that but he said, he just was more aligned with the Democrats and we said well you just can’t cover politics the rest of the summer. But you know, he was going into government anyway it turned out. That was the only one and perhaps he should have been counseled before he went out but then again, in that era, nobody expected you to go out and cover one and tell the other one what they were doing. That was the only one I can recall.
INTERVIEWER: Can you recall any times when any place that you worked was just a barrage of phone calls of angry readers or letters you know, someplace where the public got really upset with something that you or your paper had done?
CURLEY: The gun lobby was always active and occasionally there’d be an editorial that guns should be controlled, and then you get a barrage of phone calls. But if you really tracked them, most of them came from outside the market so as the campaign from wherever, orchestrated from usually a different county. It was one that was quite funny in Rochester, NY where the Albany paper was a Times Union and the Rochester paper was a Times Union and one night we started getting calls about some story about, you guys are always covering the Italians in a negative fashion and—the mob, etc. As I was going through the paper, I was working nights, I couldn’t find any stories. And finally I asked the next person where they were calling from. And they were calling from a suburb of Albany. So some idiot had told them that the Times Union who was over in Rochester and this group marshaled the calls, but they called their own newspaper. So I tried to convince the next caller of that and ultimately, about the third or fourth one got it but it was one of those that you say hey, you know, get a little smarter.