Washington Press Club Foundation
Tonnie Katz:
Interview #2 (pp. 45-85)
November 6, 1992 in Anaheim, California
Shirley Biagi , Interviewer

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[Begin Tape 1, Side A]

Biagi: In the last interview, we left you in the sixties. You were in the late sixties, talking about Janie Eckstein, the Boston Herald Traveler, Chappaquiddick, Earl "The Pearl" Marchand. Where does that place you now in location?

Katz: Boston Herald Traveler and the Quincy Patriot-Ledger. I guess the Quincy Patriot-Ledger first. Then I left there in—I guess it would be '69 to go to the Boston Herald Traveler.

Biagi: So you went to the Herald Traveler in '69.

Katz: Right. It was a very conservative newspaper, but for some reason they had hired this gang of young kids.

Biagi: How many?

Katz: I don't know exactly. It seemed like ten or twelve young people—young reporters. Everybody else was old—what seemed very old. I'm sure from this perspective they would not be very old, but at the time, they seemed very old, very grizzled, very gray, and characters. They all smoked like fiends and drank like fish. But that was the way of the world then, wasn't it?

Biagi: It was. And so this young crowd comes in?

Katz: Then this young crowd came in, many of them Harvard-educated or well educated. The city editor had a buzz cut, I remember, and was a very brilliant man who later turned up at the Globe, and I worked for him there. He just retired recently as their ombudsman. He really was a mentor of mine in many ways. I was hired at the Boston Herald Traveler as a reporter, but my responsibility was also to recruit a group of correspondents to cover the suburbs—the west suburbs of Boston.

Biagi: That hadn't been happening before?

Katz: It's always been a question at newspapers, at least the ones I've worked for, including this one. We were just discussing it this morning—how does a major or larger "metro" paper appropriately cover the suburbs and the small cities that surround it. You can't put a lot of resources into them, but they are places that generate news and they're the places that geographically you want to be, especially for city papers. Orange County is a place that is quintessentially—I don't want to say suburban, because that has connotations to it, but it's a place of many, many cities that come together to be a county. In Boston, you had the major metropolitan city, and it was surrounded by a ring of small cities and exurbs and suburbs, or two rings, really—a small ring of close-in cities, which were more urban, and then as you moved out, suburbia, then exurbia. I see now the question was—

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I didn't realize it then, but the question clearly was, how do you get readers from those places? Because those are the readers who pay you and read. So the Herald Traveler hired me to put together a group of correspondents and to cover those areas, which I did.

Biagi: What was your title then?

Katz: I can't remember what it was now. I wasn't suburban editor, I wasn't an editor, but I was maybe suburban coordinator. I was also a reporter. I had to cover these cities myself. I did that for a while, hired a group of people, and we covered the western suburbs of Boston as best we could.

Biagi: Are you a good reporter?

Katz: I was a very good reporter. I think I was a pretty average writer, but I think I was a very good reporter because I was very hungry for stories. My children say that I would have walked over my grandmother's face to get a story, and that's probably true. The hunt was very good; I loved being out in the streets. I never was in the office if I could help it. They had trouble finding me. I would keep in touch, of course, but I was always out looking for stories. People liked to talk to me, and they still do. I don't know what it is about me, but strangers will come up to me and tell me their life stories over the lettuce in the supermarket, and some very personal things, too—things I have no desire to hear. [Laughter.] So I was pretty good at that. It was very different. Being a reporter in the 1990s and being a reporter in the 1960s is very different.

Biagi: Why do you say that? Why do you think that's true?

Katz: Being a reporter in the sixties was basically covering things that were happening in front of you. Breaking news was the key. I don't remember ever hearing the word "planning" in any newsroom I ever was in. I don't ever remember us sitting down to strategize anything. Something happened, you ran like hell and got there and got that story. You went to a meeting, you went to a neighborhood, you went to a person, you skulked around, digging out things that were happening.

Now you enterprise. You go out there and find stories, and a lot of them have to do with trends and ideas and the way people live. I don't think in the 1960s we ever would have done a story like we are doing this morning. Because of the trade barriers [President George] Bush is considering putting up, we sent our food writer out. I don't think we even had a food writer in the sixties, but had we had one, that person would have concentrated on recipes. Our food writer is going out today to try and see if people are loading up on French wines. He'll write a list of French wines you should load up on, and he'll also talk to wine societies, and then he'll also give a list of tips on non-French wines that could be good alternatives. And we're heading that for the front page. That would never have been in the front page in the 1960s.

Biagi: What has changed? The news hasn't changed.

Katz: The definition of news has changed.

Biagi: To include?

Katz: What's changed? The definition of news has changed. The definition of news has broadened dramatically, changed dramatically, I think, in the time I've been in the business. News used to be something that happened in front of you, and you went out and watched it and recorded it and came back and wrote a verbal snapshot of it, and it got in the paper the next day.

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That didn't change much even in a Sunday paper. News is different now. I just read an article by the dean of Columbia University School of Journalism, and she talks about news as being the life of ideas. I wrote her a letter and asked her to please explain that, because that sounded like a really interesting beat to me—life of the mind. But it is everything from people's ideas to the way people live and how to cope. Tips about life. Newspapers are just one piece in the big information puzzle.

In the 1960s, we just assumed that was how people were going to get their news. I know there was television then, but it was certainly not the sophisticated media it is now. There was no CNN. You didn't watch war happening in front of you. The Vietnam War was on every night, but that was very different from today's CNN where you're literally seeing news as it happens, and world leaders are learning about it from the television. More people got their news and expected their news to come from newspapers, I think, and I don't think that's the truth today. I think they expect newspapers to be something different, and that's one of the things we're trying to figure out. How to define what a newspaper should be.

Biagi: Let's get you past the sixties, then. 1969, so you're at the Herald.

Katz: Right. Let me tell you one other thing. I think newspapers in those times considered themselves general interest products, that you were writing for Mr. and Mrs. Average Reader, whoever the hell that was. Now when we think of a newspaper, we think of building constituencies of interest groups. So we're looking for readers who are especially interested in one topic or another, and we'll cover that topic. They may only pick up our paper because we cover pets, for example, so very well, but if you build enough of those blocks of special interest groups, then you'll build a readership. So it's a very different approach to who your readers are.

Biagi: What you're talking about sounds a little bit like the targeting that magazines have done. Is the newspaper becoming more like magazines, or is it becoming a hybrid?

Katz: I hope it's becoming its own thing, whatever that is, but it is definitely closer to special interest magazines. But it still has to retain its original mission. Newspapers still have to retain, I think, their original mission, which is to be a voice for the voiceless, to defend free speech in America, to investigate terrible things that might be going on. All those assignments that we had before haven't gone away. Those are still our mandate, I think. On top of that, now, we have the mandate to explain the much more complicated world to people as they live in it, and on top of that, most important, to point them to other resources for being able to live better in that world. It's a real difference.

Biagi: Can newspapers do that better than magazines? Why should somebody seek that from a newspaper as opposed to a magazine?

Katz: Magazines are generally not daily products. You can't interact with a magazine, at least not yet. You can't interact with a magazine the way you're able to interact with newspapers. At this newspaper, the Register, for example, we'll have going at any one time phone lines, fax lines, letters to the editor. There are many ways for our readers to talk to us on a variety of subjects every day. We have something called InfoLine, which gives callers information for free on anything from their personal stock market portfolio—a lot of papers are going this way—to restaurant recommendations from our restaurant critic. On election night this week, we provided callers updates on election results, I don't know how often, but every X minutes. We had over 11,000 people call in on those phone lines, which tells me that that's another way for newspapers to disseminate information. It's not through the printed word, but it's giving information.

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And that's, I think, the essential difference. Now we think of ourselves as information distributors, while before we thought of ourselves as newspapers.

Biagi: You talked to me a little bit, too, about how you structured the deadlines differently for this edition of the Register to get results later and put them in the paper. Do you think that's another way to go—in other words, later deadlines on the big stories that you know are planned and coming up?

Katz: One big problem is that no matter how late our deadlines are, we're never going to beat television, because you couldn't get 100 percent of the vote into the paper and still get the paper on people's doorsteps when they want it at five o'clock in the morning. It would be impossible. I don't think the vote was even counted until six o'clock or seven o'clock in the morning. So you have to go beyond the numbers to explain them, because readers are going to get the essential information from television.

I heard last weekend at a conference I was at how one newspaper, the Philadelphia Inquirer, which is certainly a great paper, defines what it has in stories. They must accomplish two things: reaffirm what readers have already seen/heard, whatever, somewhere else, or tell something new to the readers. That's what newspapers are; they're a mix. In the election, what we try and do is reaffirm the basic information you get on television, and then add other information and depth and perspective that you couldn't possibly get as the television news flies by you when you watch it. TV's a moving medium. You watch it and it goes past. But ours sticks around on your breakfast table.

I think there will always be a place for the written word. Newspapers may change a lot in the future, and I have some ideas about how I think they should change, but I think that they're definitely going to change. In one way or another, we are not going to be the medium that we are now, but I think there will always be a place for the printed word, because once news is on television, it's over. If you want to go back or look at it again, or read it over or reevaluate it—even put it in your pocket, you can't with the television. So I think there will be a place for both of us.

Biagi: What would be an example, for instance, of a reaffirmed story?

Katz: [William Jefferson "Bill"] Clinton was elected president. People knew that in California at five o'clock in the afternoon, at 5:02, before they even voted, some of them. It would be rather ridiculous for us to leave that out of the paper the day after the election.

Biagi: And an example of the discovery story would be?

Katz: Last year we won many prizes for a series on some of the problems in the biggest women's prison in America. We found everything from corrupt guards to the fact that many of the women prisoners found it much easier to get drugs than they did medical care. It was a very startling and frightening series, every word of which was on the record. No one spoke off the record, which is a very unique thing that this newspaper requires. We do not do source stories under any circumstances. So that would be a discovery story. That story would have just sat there and no one would have ever written about it. Many of the stories in the cities that we cover, would be discovery stories because nobody else would cover them if we didn't.

Biagi: Were you involved in that prison story, in creating the idea or working on it?

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Katz: I was the managing editor, so I wasn't hands-on in the putting together of the story, but I was constantly involved in it as it progressed, and before it was in the paper, I went through—it was probably twenty-eight full pages of type by the time we finished—I had gone over every line of it with them to see what the sources were, because it was a very controversial story that could have ended up with someone owning the paper besides us. I checked where they got their information and how good the information was and how many sources provided it. Because the real complication with that story was that a lot of the information came from prisoners. Nobody is going to believe prisoners, so we had to not only validate the information from the prisoners, but we had to go out and find other sources who the public would view as more credible to tell us about it, too. That was very hard. But there was not a single word in that series that was not attributed, and there were serious changes in the prison system after it was published.

Biagi: Let's talk a little bit, since we're on the subject, of how a managing editor affects the stories that are in the paper. In that sense, what effect would an ME [Managing Editor] have on whether got in the paper or not? Did it need your approval to get in the paper?

Katz: Yes.

Biagi: Would you be the one at that point who would put the extra resources there?

Katz: Yes. The managing editor of the paper is sort of like the giant traffic cop. The managing editor here really keeps the day-to-day operation of the paper going, but it's a great big juggling act because you have some people writing for today, some people writing for tomorrow, some people writing for four days out, some people writing for a month out. In this case it was a six-month project. We put three people on it—three reporters—plus and one editor and another half an editor—full time for six months. Photographers and artists were involved as needed. That's a big resource for us. So I would be the one who would approve that.

Biagi: Do you think, on reflection, that women in the role of managing editor would make decisions any differently or look at stories differently than men in the same positions?

Katz: I've been asked that so many times, and the same for editor and the same for line editor. In fact, a journalism teacher who you may know, Maurine Beasley, at the University of Maryland, actually had me attend a day-long conference on "pink-collar" journalism, the premise of which was that women cover news differently than men. I argue, no, I don't think they do. A story's a story. We all come to every story with our own eyes, and the fact that I'm Jewish and the fact that I grew up in New England and the fact that I'm large and the fact that I have two children in college—is as important to my view, I guess, as the fact that I'm a woman. So I don't know that women look at stories differently. A good story is a good story, and you just know it in your bones.

Biagi: The counterargument, of course, is that many stories that women felt belonged in the paper for so many years weren't there, on the news side, and so the counterargument, of course, is that because women weren't on the news side of a newspaper, those stories weren't in the paper. Is it because they weren't making the decisions or is it because they weren't the reporters? How do you counter that argument?

Katz: I think it's because the way news was defined by the people in charge, whether they were men or women, was very different. I think that changing technology has had more of an impact on what we cover than the fact that there are women in the newsroom. The point of diversity obviously is that diverse—and that would not only include women, it would include race,

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Spanish people and black people and Asians. The point of that is that if you bring a diverse population into your newsroom, they will at least come together with the eyes of the population that you're serving. I think that's absolutely true, and we at the Register are more committed than any place I ever worked, except maybe Gannett, to having a diverse newsroom.

But women per se? I don't know. Women really aren't still in positions of power. I read in the Los Angeles Times, that great newspaper down the road, when I got named editor here, that there were only seven women who were editors of papers over 100,000—a fact that astonished me. My boss told me that I'm the only woman in the top thirty papers who's an editor. That just is mind-blowing to me.

But do I look at a story differently than a man? I don't think so. I think men have become more sensitive about all these issues. I think it's just that people have changed, not that women have joined the newsroom. I think that the newsrooms have become more mixed and all those things have come into the newsroom. And society has changed, what's important has changed, and our role as a newspaper has changed. So all those things have come together. I guess what I'm saying is you can't give women all the credit.

Biagi: Go back to '69. What was the newsroom like, how many women were there at the newsroom you were in on the news side?

Katz: There were some of these young kids.

Biagi: Half?

Katz: I don't think half. A third, maybe.

Biagi: That you hired?

Katz: I can't remember. I remember one—Barbara Rabinowitz. But of the young kids who were in the newsroom who were full-time reporters as opposed to these correspondents that I hired—I hired a lot of women, now that I think about it, and I couldn't tell you their names. Some of them I haven't thought since '69, but I hired a lot of women because those were the people who were willing to take these low-paying correspondent jobs. They were generally housewives or people who worked at little teeny publications in their community who could live on this horrible pay that was given to them.

Biagi: They were stringers really, or were they actual—

Katz: They were stringers, yes. That's what they were. Well, they were stringers on the payroll kind of stringers. Correspondents, I think we called them. I was one myself once for somebody else. So a lot of them were women because they were willing to accept the miserable wages that we paid them and do the humiliating work and abusive work that we assigned them while their husbands were out earning big bucks to keep the family going. But also, within the office, in this young group of kids there were—I can think of at least three other women, and there were probably ten what I call young kids. There were other women in the newsroom. There was one very incredibly old woman named Rose Walsh—incredibly old. I don't know how old she was.

Biagi: How old do you think she was now looking back on it?

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Katz: Ninety-five! She may still be alive, but I think she—no, this was the Herald Traveler, not the Herald American; she was at the Record American at that time. It was when I came back to the paper, she was with me. At the Boston Herald Traveler? There must have been some women in features; I just can't remember any. There certainly were women in the library.

Biagi: But in news there were the three that you had as stringers?

Katz: There were some kids. You get confused. I was at that paper twice. There must have been some, but I don't remember a lot and I don't remember any by name. When I came back to the Boston Herald later in my career, there were women there. But in any paper, at that time, there weren't a lot. There were more at the Patriot-Ledger because it was a suburban paper, but on the news side, there never were very many. So it was pretty unusual, I think, that my career was only on the news side.

Biagi: You never did features?

Katz: Never. Not exactly true. Way back in the summers, I did features because that was the way you sort of moved up, but after that, never.

Biagi: After '69?

Katz: No. After I got out of college, I never worked on the features side, and I think that's a terrible hole in my background. Now did I ever work on a copy desk, except for a three-month stint at Newsday. I think what was happening then, and something that is starting to change now, is that all of a sudden there were two ways of moving up. One was through the production side, and one was through the reporting side, and I just got onto the reporting side and, thank God, I never did any of that production work. It's changing now. It's changing back now, so that people are being trained in all parts of it.

Biagi: So in '69, for how long, then, were you there?

Katz: Matt was born in '71, so—he was born in Britain. I left in September '70. Until August '70.

Biagi: You and your husband?

Katz: Me and my husband. My husband and I. Whatever is right grammatically. We left and went to London to live.

Biagi: Had he finished school now?

Katz: He had finished law school at that time. He was a lawyer, an official lawyer. But he had this great desire to go and do a master's in international law at the University of London. Actually, I think it was that we both wanted to travel a little bit, and this was a way to do it. So he went to the University of London, King's College, to get his master's degree. It was a year program. I couldn't get a newspaper job in London, because who wants an American journalist? You've got all these other English-speaking journalists who are British, and they didn't care about people who had knowledge of Boston. I was too young anyway to really understand how they worked that system.

So I got a job as a PR person for the Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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Biagi: How did you find a job?

Katz: I guess I answered an ad in the paper, and they hired me "black." I was illegal; I didn't have a green card.

Biagi: Meaning black what?

Katz: Black meaning illegally. I didn't have the moral equivalent of our green card. You needed a work permit to get a job. I didn't have a work permit, but these people hired me anyway. I guess they felt some affinity to me. And what a horrible job that was! A horrible, horrible job.

Biagi: What did you do?

Katz: I was a flunky, a PR flunky. I did office work basically. I also tried to do some stringing for the papers back home and did a little bit of that. But I was very soon pregnant, and so I didn't work for the Friends very long, a few months maybe. Then I was sick during the pregnancy and spent a couple of months in the hospital. Then we had Matt and moved to Wales.

Biagi: What was the day he was born?

Katz: He was born July 27, 1971. Steve had already moved by that time to Wales, and as soon as the baby was born, I moved with him.

Biagi: We'll take another change in here. Tell me about your name—Tonnie or Toni. Tell me the story of your name.

Katz: My name is Tonnie, T-O-N-N-I-E. I was named after my great-grandmother; her name was Tonnie, as well. It must have been Antoinette at one point, since my family comes from Austria, or what was Austria then. It was originally Poland, I think, but it was part of Austria when they came here from there. I think they prefer to say Austria than Poland. Now it's Russia, it's Lvov, the Lvov area of Russia. I have some family records, and that was her name. I was named after my great-grandmother Tonnie. That was my name, a name I always hated in my whole life. But I didn't change it. I hated it because I didn't have a nickname; everybody else had nicknames, but Tonnie sounded enough like a nickname, so I got stuck with it.

When I became a reporter, it became very awkward. I'd call up and say, "My name is Tonnie Schwartz," which it was originally, and later Katz, which it was when I was married, and people would want to stop the conversation there and discuss my name because it was unusual. Again, times were different and you had to get the story and you had to get it fast and do a turnaround. There were many editions usually of a paper, and you didn't have time to stop and discuss your name. So I started calling myself "Toni" on the phone.

Biagi: You never had before that?

Katz: No. I didn't even like it. And it just stuck—with me, I mean, not with others. So I often interchangeably use "Toni" or "Tonnie."

Biagi: But it was expediency, really.

Katz: Absolutely. It was absolutely expediency. Even today, I still call myself "Toni," and half my staff has no idea what my name really is, and sometimes I'm not sure either.

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So I will routinely use "Toni" on the telephone, even though it's "Tonnie," and to strangers I'll introduce myself as "Toni" and eventually down the line if they become friends, they'll find out it's really "Tonnie."

Biagi: [Laughter.] It's a good way to distinguish on the phone.

Katz: I'll answer to either of them or any other nice thing you want to call me.

Biagi: All right. September 1971. We've got July 27, 1971, and you moved to Wales.

Katz: We moved to Cardiff, Wales, where my ex-husband became a teacher of international law at the—

Biagi: He was your husband at that time.

Katz: He was my husband, yes. At the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology. There I was with this little baby, plenty to do and nothing to do at the same time.

Biagi: That is, you didn't have a job.

Katz: I didn't have a job. Right. But I had a baby, and that was a lot. Having never had one before, that was a lot. I've always been a person who's never been able to really relax and enjoy what I have, so I still continued at the very beginning a little bit of freelancing. We lived in co-op apartments on the lake in Cardiff, a really beautiful place. While I was there, I met another woman who had a baby just a few months older than I was, and she had been trained as a psychologist. She was English, and her husband also taught at the university. We became friends, and a few months later she moved to a village called Cowbridge, which was about twenty miles away, I guess—twenty minutes, twenty miles, I'm not sure now. She bought an old house on the main street of Cowbridge, this wonderful old house that had been owned by a church. The minister had either become gay or drank too much, and they sold the house, and they sold it to Jane [Hodson] and her husband Stewart.

It was a time in Britain, a time very similar to what we had here in California a few years ago, where you looked at a house and it would be gone, and the prices were skyrocketing. Steve and I had decided we'd like to get in on this big bang, this big rise in housing prices. So we'd been looking and looking. You'd get to a house that was for sale and there'd be a line outside. People would say, "I'll have it," to the realtor as the realtor drove up, without even looking inside. One day in the Cardiff paper there was a story about this couple who was building a house in a tract in Cowbridge where my friend Jane lived. When they started building the house it was affordable, but the price of it had gone up significantly while they were building, and they didn't have a clause in their contract that kept it to the original price. I said, "Well, maybe they can't afford it, but I can." I ran out there that morning and bought the house right out from under them. [Laughter.]

Biagi: It was half built?

Katz: Half built. And when it was finished a couple of months later, Steve and I and Matthew, my little baby, moved in. Cowbridge was a town of 2,500 people, so it was clearly within walking distance of my friend Jane's house on the main street. Cowbridge only had one main street, and we lived sort of around the corner in this new tract. Jane was a very interesting—her name was Jane Hodson—and she was a very, very interesting woman. We would meet every day with our kids,

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who became friends, and try and figure out what we could do since she didn't feel she could be a psychologist under the circumstances, and I couldn't be a journalist. And we had no money. A big problem.

Biagi: You were paying for the house. [Laughter.]

Katz: But what we did have was this house of hers on the main street, and it had a permit that you could run a business in it because they had run a church in it. It had to be a non-profit business, but we didn't care about that. So we decided that the only thing you could do when you had no money, just cachet, was open an art gallery. Neither of us knew a thing about art, but that never deterred us, not knowing anything, and we opened the Iolo Art Gallery, named after a great king of Wales. The four of us—Steve and Jane and me and Stewart—spent an entire weekend at her family's beach cottage in Devon trying to think up names for this gallery. Mostly we laughed the whole weekend. We finally settled on Iolo because it was a famous Welsh name and it had some Welsh identity, and it was the only one we could think of that made any sense at all, because we were going to specialize in contemporary Welsh art.

We were very scientific. After we decided we were going to open this art gallery, we went to the university. They had a very good art department, and we met the head of the art department and some of the professors there, all of whom thought this was a great idea. They adopted us and introduced us to some of the best Welsh artists of the time. We opened a shop in, basically, Jane's front room. I wouldn't say it was enormously financially successful, but we had wonderful exhibitions, and people just thought we were weird enough. Here was this American woman—there had never been an American in Cowbridge—and—

Biagi: Maybe they came to see you. [Laughter.]

Katz: And here was this other strange woman, and we opened this funny business. We were wildly successful, socially anyway, as a place to gather, and a lot of very well-known Welsh artists put their work in. Some people actually bought stuff from us, and we had a great time. We had a wonderful time. It was a little tiny—it was no bigger than this office, really. But we had a wonderful time.

Biagi: About forty square feet?

Katz: Yes. Every month we changed exhibitions, and we had catalogs, and it was loads of fun. We also bought a lot of our own art, too. This was a big old townhouse, a row house, a three-story row house—so she had a back room where the kids just played all day and we had a great time in between customers.

Then after we were there at least about a year, she got pregnant, and I got pregnant very soon after, so we were both pregnant there, running this business. We started to place some of our art in industry. Some of these people were very well-known Welsh artists, and Jane got the idea that we should sell it to industry. We were just starting that when Jenny was born and we moved away. Jane continued for a while, I think, but then it became too much and she got divorced. She now is a social worker in Devon, and I just saw her. I see her once every eight years or so, and I just saw her last Christmas. It was lots of fun.

Biagi: What made you decide to move away?

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Katz: Steve got an offer from the University of Sydney to be a tenured professor there in Australia. That sounded pretty good, so we took it. We were on our way to Sydney, but we had stopped in America to show off these two children to friends and relatives. One of the most prestigious law firms in Boston offered Steve a job with a lot of money. He had never been a practicing lawyer. He had only been a student of law or a teacher or professor of law. So I think he was nervous that if we moved to Sydney, even though it was a tenured job, what if he ever wanted to come back to America and be a lawyer? But here was a chance, and people said, "You can't turn this down." So he took the job, and I think he probably hated it from the first day he was there, but he was very good at it.

Biagi: This would have been 197—

Katz: This was about 1973. Jenny was born on September 8, 1973, and I would say we left in October or November for America on our way to Sydney. I guess he was probably going to start in January in Australia. But instead he started at this law firm.

We moved to Framingham, Massachusetts, and for a few months I worked selling advertising for a little weekly paper in Framingham, just enough to make the food money. I had these little kids, and we bought a house while I decided to see what I wanted to do. But then remember the guy with the buzz cut from the Boston Herald Traveler?

Biagi: Whose name is?

Katz: Bob Kiersted. He, in the meantime, had gone to the Boston Globe. My brother is in the clothing business, and at that time he played in a pick-up baseball team with a bunch of guys also in the clothing business. At one point, they went to another town to play against another team of guys, and he met Charlie Ball, who had been the assistant city editor at the Boston Herald Traveler. When he heard I was back in America, he told Bob, and Bob called me and offered me a job as a correspondent for the Boston Globe, and I took it.

[End Tape 1, Side A; Begin Tape 1, Side B]

Biagi: So you had been home with your young kids maybe about a year, a year and a half?

Katz: No, not even that much. Just a few months.

Biagi: So in about '75, then, you went to work for the Globe?

Katz: '75. Right.

Biagi: Can you remember exactly when?

Katz: No. It was '75, though. It's when we were living on Lockland Avenue in Framingham. Bob Kiersted called me in and said they were starting a team of four people whose job it was to cover the suburbs. Here's that same old question again—how do you cover the suburbs? They had decided to cover the suburbs in an issue-oriented way. The metropolitan papers could never field enough people to cover the suburbs like a blanket. So they had to find a way to cover them that was still meaningful but yet didn't take much staff and resources and no money—the usual criteria.

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So four of us were hired as correspondents on what they called the "trend" team. Our boss was Jon Katz, who is no relation to me, and Ben Taylor, who is now assistant or associate publisher—I'm not sure what his title is—of the Boston Globe, one of the Taylor family. He was assistant metro editor and Jon Katz was metro editor. Jon had worked at Philadelphia, where they had perfected this whole idea of trend writing. The idea was to find a trend and then find two or three or four communities or people in the three or four communities that illustrated that trend, however bizarre or strange it was. I really had a knack for that.

Biagi: Do you remember any of your trend stories?

Katz: Oh, yes. There were some great ones. I wrote about the decline of public bathrooms, and actually found a study from a guy in Britain who had done all kinds of research on the declining number of public toilets and what problems that raised for people. These kind of stories were the ones that got responses. The serious ones never got responses. I wrote about senior criminals, seniors who commit crimes, not seniors who are crime victims, but the rising number of senior rapists and murderers and thieves. I wrote about the death of plastic plants. There was a time when plastic plants were really popular, but at this point, everyone was going into live greenery or silk. Remember when everybody started having plants in their houses?

Biagi: Real green.

Katz: Right. To real green. I found all these people trying to get rid of their old plastic plants. One person buried the plastic plants in the back yard, and every time it rained they would come up. A church in one town had thousands of dollars worth of plastic plants that they gave away in an extravaganza—all these wonderful examples from different communities. So that's how you link the communities.

We wrote about serious stuff, too. We wrote about how schools were cutting—the story still exists—how schools faced with budget crisis were cutting back programs like music and art. I could write that story today. One successful story was on the decline of the Jewish mother. That really touched a lot of people. What you basically did was find a lot of Jewish mothers and how their roles have changed. One that got sacks of mail and became a running story for a while was how people in the suburbs never went to the city. I also have to tell you that on the side at this time, because I made $98 a week from the Globe, and my day care cost $105—so on the side I drove a school bus for my kids' day care center. I was also one of the parents on the board of the day care center we started up.

Biagi: Did you drive the bus every day?

Katz: I drove the bus every day.

Biagi: What time in the morning did you start?

Katz: Oh, God knows. I can't remember.

Biagi: Was it before you went to work?

Katz: You didn't go to work at the newspaper; you were out in the streets. That was the whole point. I only went to the newspaper once in a while to write these stories. So I drove this bus, too, and in my bus was this kid whose mother, Sandy something-or-other, really exemplified the trend. She was probably in her thirties. She had graduated from college when she was twenty-one,

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say, in Boston, had driven to Framingham, Massachusetts, which is twenty-five miles west, and she had never been back. It was really talking about how the suburbs were maturing. All the same restaurants had branches out there. And movies and stores. There was nothing that you needed to go to the city for except the Red Sox, and that was the one thing that she missed. She had never seen the Mass. Pike extension, which was really an amazing thing.

Biagi: Which had been built when?

Katz: Somewhere in the time between she left college and the last ten years. So she had never been back to the city. Then I went around to some other towns and found some people who hadn't been to Boston for thirty years or more. People envision the city of Boston as a place where you had to pay for parking and where you'd get killed by "those people"—as a dangerous and expensive place, so why the hell go there? What's there? You might as well stay out in the safe, clean, white suburbs, basically.

Biagi: That's one way to find stories, in the bus. But how would you find the other stories, for instance?

Katz: Just wandering around.

Biagi: Just think about them?

Katz: How do you find stories anywhere?

Biagi: But you're essentially not in a newsroom, so you're not based anywhere.

Katz: You know, stories are never found in a newsroom, not the good ones, anyway.

Biagi: So you find your own.

Katz: When you live in a community, you just watch what's happening around you. You listen to people and see what they're talking about. You might read the little local papers. There's just a million—

Biagi: For instance, the senior criminals. Where did you get that idea?

Katz: I don't know now. I don't know. Probably talking to a police chief somewhere. The decline of Jewish mothers was, I'm sure, from my Aunt Esta, because she used to always complain about how she washed those white shoelaces from those white shoes all the time. And then I was meeting young Jewish women who were incredibly active, not religious at all, incredibly active. They were lawyers, they were doctors, they were professionals. I mean, the whole lifestyle had changed.

Oh, I know exactly where I got that story, because I used him in the lead—the guy who cut my hair, Allen Hirsch. He was talking about his mother one day, and how she used to come home from the fish store. She worked, which was very unusual, but it was a different kind of work. They didn't have professions; they worked in the store—the store. And his mother would come home smelling of fish every day. He worked at a very fancy Newton hair salon, and we would discuss the women who were coming in, very cattily, and that's how I got that story. I mean, I just observed. I was a good reporter in the sense that I could find a story anywhere.

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Biagi: Did you have a certain number of stories you had to prepare every week?

Katz: No.

Biagi: Or you could just do them when you wanted to?

Katz: No, we did about one a week. They took about a week to do, sometimes two weeks. Plastic plants was just something you saw. Public toilets was something you observed.

Biagi: How did you find this woman who had planted her plastic plants in the garden?

Katz: Just worked the phone. I don't know. If you just talk to people, they just lead you to other people. It's sort of like pulling a string. I never had problems finding people. I was very good at working phones. Because I lived in the area, my family was part of the area, I understood the psyche of the area. One of the things I do well is understand the kinds of stories that real people want to read. Even if they tell you they don't want to read them, it's just a lie. It's a lie. People now are saying that they're just sick of reading about Fergie and Diana. Don't let them tell you that. They aren't bored at all. If that story came up again, they'd read every word of it.

Biagi: Why do you think you're really good at focusing on stories that people want to read?

Katz: I don't know.

Biagi: Are they stories you want to read?

Katz: Always stories I want to read. The stories people want to read I judge by my mother-in-law. I call her the average reader, because she—we have a column in this newspaper called "Juice." She hates it. A lot of our readers hate it. But she—and they—read every word of it.

Biagi: It's gossip?

Katz: No, it's little bits and pieces. Bites of news. It's got a little cynical edge and it's just silly in some ways. It's almost a dialogue with readers.

Biagi: What would be an example of an item?

Katz: They'd have a contest about naming garage bands or ask readers to describe what they see from their windows. It's nothing one would call journalism with a big "J," or serious journalism with a big "SJ." It's just a way to interact with readers. My mother-in-law hates that column—hates it, hates it, hates it, and takes every opportunity she can to tell me how much she hates it. But she reads it every day, and that, to me, tells me it's a big success. I usually use the mother-in-law rule, or my rule. If I'm interested in it, I figure the average person is. That's the way I look at it.

Biagi: For how long did you do this trend writing for the Globe?

Katz: I think '75 to '78.

Biagi: 1975 to 1978 you had this assignment in Boston. And what happened in '78 to change that?

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Katz: I thought I was a pretty good reporter, and the Globe had shown no indication of wanting to pick me up full time, although I had talked to my boss about it. I mean, you know, sort of like why buy the cow when you already get the milk?

So one day I took four or five of my stories and a paper napkin, and I wrote on the napkin, "These could have been in your paper," and I sent them to the editor of the Boston Herald.

Biagi: Why a paper napkin?

Katz: That happened to be what I had at hand at lunch. [Laughter.]

Biagi: [Laughter.] You thought of the idea at lunch, did you?

Katz: I do everything by my gut, and something had upset me. One thing, at the Globe, first I had worked on my own, this team had worked on its own, but it became so successful that the Globe, during that '75 to '78 period, opened a bureau in Framingham. Me and a regular reporter, Bill Hamilton, who is now with the Washington Post, were staff. We shared an office above a pizza parlor on Route Nine, and we had a great time. It was lots of fun. The story about people not going into the city generated so many sacks of mail that we carried it on. Globe columnist Jack Thomas wrote a column titled "Yes, Sandy, there really is a city," and we brought Sandy to the city for the weekend and showed her the Red Sox and showed her the Mass. Pike extension and showed her Little Italy, which is such a charming place, and she kept saying "Oh, how dirty this is!" You could see she was so glad to get back to the suburbs. Then we took Jack out to Framingham for the weekend and took him to some of the highlights out in the suburbs. I ghost-wrote for Sandy. We kept it going for a while. It turned out my neighbor hadn't been into the city for thirty-nine years. So it touched a lot of people who had moved out of the cities.

In fact, during that time, Steve and I tried to buy a house in a suburb of Boston called Dorcester, where my father had grown up, and he wouldn't talk to me for six months. We didn't buy it because it had terrible termites, but there was this whole gentrification movement and we wanted to move back to the city. My parents thought—they had spent their whole life trying to get out of that place—why would anybody want to go back in? And they couldn't understand that these were the most beautiful old houses and that they were near everything. No long commute. But we never did move anyway.

So in '78, I sent this napkin to the editor of the Boston Herald American, which was owned by Hearst. I sent him this packet, and a woman named Charlotte Hall, the managing editor, called me and I was hired almost immediately.

Biagi: In a bureau or at the newspaper in Boston?

Katz: At the newspaper, as a reporter.

Biagi: General assignment?

Katz: At first, general assignment. Soon after I got there, the editor left, and Don Forst, who is now the editor of New York Newsday came to be the editor of the Boston Herald American. He was a wondrous man, and the paper came alive, as alive as it could in those days.

It's funny. In those days, '78, the people at the Boston Globe would never even have a Boston Herald in their newsroom. They were so—I guess arrogant is the real word, about the

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success of their newspaper, and the lack of success of the Herald, that they never even bothered to read it every day. I think Don Forst started the change. Of course, now the Herald, although it's not in any way ever going to outsell the Globe, it's certainly going to continue in the market, and if you work at the Boston Globe now, I can guarantee you, you read the Herald every day.

But anyway, I think I was hired as a general assignment reporter, somewhat trends. I covered state government for a while, I did investigative writing, and so I was there. That was '78 to '80 I did all of those things.

Biagi: Let me ask what's happening with child care now. How are your children being taken care of?

Katz: Oh, by every possible crazy combination that you can imagine.

Biagi: Steve is having full days.

Katz: By this time, Steve has left his law firm. He got fed up and walked out one day and went on his own.

Biagi: About what time?

Katz: He was only there for about a year and a half, and he got fed up, went out on his own, had a woman partner, which is interesting, and was very successful. So that was never a problem, although he was not doing international law; he was defending all these people who—I call them plug-pulling cases. You know, people who couldn't defend themselves for one reason or another, and the hospital wanted to pull the plug or the family wanted to pull the plug. One famous case was representing a guy in a state mental hospital who had cancer, and the state didn't want to give him any more treatment. Steve represented him. So he did a lot of these. He was on television a lot, and he was particularly obnoxious because he would never talk to the press. He didn't believe that lawyers should talk to the press under any circumstances, so even though I worked for the press, he always had a "no comment."

Biagi: The cases were funded by—

Katz: The court. He wasn't a public defender or anything, but he was brought in by the court as a specialist in these kind of cases. He did other kinds of law, too. But he was quite successful. It was very interesting. We had a very different kind of relationship financially, because I had pretty good pay at the time, and he had, I guess, pretty good pay, but we never pooled our resources. He paid for some things and I paid for some things.

Biagi: You kept the finances separate?

Katz: Separate. He paid for the mortgage and some other things, the car payments, and I paid for the food and the clothing for the kids. Since he was a lawyer, every year he did the taxes. "Just tell me where to sign," and I never looked at it. So I never really did know, but I knew we were doing fine, because I made a pretty good living, too.

Biagi: And you bought this house.

Katz: By this time, we had moved from the little ranch house that we had lived in on Lockland Avenue, Framingham, to this wonderful eighty-year-old Tudor house that was built by

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an architect at the turn of the century near the state college. It was just a great old place. In the basement of this house was basically a suite of rooms that we turned into an apartment for students from the college. We were closer to the college than some of the dorms, and it had its own exit and entrance. So kids liked to rent it, and we basically said, "Don't rent it. We'll give you free room and board plus a little pay if you'll babysit our children." So we had college students babysitting our kids. Because they were also in full-time day care, so it had to be someone who would go get them after day care ended. We had other child care givers. I mean, there was just a slew of them over the years. I can't begin to tell you how many.

Biagi: Most of them college students?

Katz: Some of them college students, some of them older women, some of them illegal immigrants. Over the years I have had every kind of child care giver possible, including a day care center. In the town of Framingham, my kids went to a day care center, pre-school through three, that was started by NOW [National Organization for Women] members. And then since a lot of us had kids about the same age, and that was a time when school populations were declining, and we all wondered what the hell we were going to do when the kids got out of this day care center, a group of us got together and got the town to let us use a room in one of the schools as an after-school day care center, and we hired a staff. We paid the town of Framingham money, and we ran little car buses around to the different schools. The first year we had twenty-six kids, and I can't imagine how big that program has grown now, but it was the first full-time after-school day care program in the town of Framingham. And it used classrooms that were going to waste. So we hired teachers and we brought in people to teach music, and it was really wonderful. Classes ran till six o'clock. So the kids weren't taken care of by me.

Biagi: Were you working evenings?

Katz: You worked whatever it took to get the story done. I was one of those people who could not write the second sentence until the first sentence was perfect, so I would be there till midnight half the time. Late deadlines then. Very different from today. No color. You know, things were different. So I worked very long hours, but by choice, I think. I mean, I was a perfectionist.

Talking about day care, the very first day I went to the Herald, the very first day of that job, we had the biggest snowstorm in history in Massachusetts, and I was at my new job one hour when the day care center called and asked me to come and get my kids. And here I was on the first day of a new job, twenty-five miles away, and the kids had no way home, and I couldn't possibly (I thought) ask Charlotte Hall if I could leave.

Biagi: They wanted you to come and get the kids because they were sick?

Katz: No, because they were shutting down. This was a snowstorm to end all snowstorms. This was like thirty-five inches. It was unbelievable when it finished. So I called Steve and said, "This is my first day of work. You've got to go home." And luckily, he did. I stayed for the day, and then tried to drive home without snow tires on the Mass. Pike. People were abandoning their cars. It was unbelievable. But I knew that if I didn't bring that damn car home, Steve would be furious. Plus, I had high heels, I had no boots. I was totally unprepared for this thing. It was in February sometime. So I drove the car, got there. It took hours. I got to the bottom of our street, and I abandoned the car there and walked home. I said, "To hell with this. He can go get it now." It was our blue Pinto that had been a school bus just the year before.

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I mean, that's really the dilemma you are faced with so many times. What if the kids are sick? When my kids would get sick, I would call my mother, who lived fifty miles away in Lowell, Massachusetts. I lived in Framingham. It was quite a schlepp. It was an hour for her. I would beg her to come. It's very interesting, because my mother always encouraged me to work. I think I said this last time when we talked. She always encouraged me to do what I wanted, but yet those were the times when she said, "You are so selfish. You never should have had children." I mean, she came, but the guilt was so incredible that you couldn't stand it.

Biagi: So in her mind, you think, the choice was either children or career?

Katz: Right. Right. And there was also this incredible jealousy, that she didn't have a career. So it was very hard for her. She was real proud. She told everyone in the world that I was a reporter, and she was real proud of it, but, boy, when she had to come and babysit, she was disgusted with me for somehow thinking—I mean, she somehow believed you had this choice, but you didn't. If you come in to work, you have to work.

Biagi: Were the domestic arrangements your job? In other words, did you have to organize the child care, the shopping, that kind of thing? Or was that shared with Steve, would you say?

Katz: Steve was pretty good about that stuff. In fact, he was probably a far better father than I was a mother. He was the kind of guy who would get down on the floor and play trucks and do that stuff, and I could never do that. He was real good about that, and he was really good about contributing. I had this thing about doing vacuuming.

Biagi: You hated it, you mean?

Katz: Oh, I hated it. I mean, we had help. If I ever had money, it would not go to the family; it would go for housekeeping. So we had somebody who came in once a week, but, I mean, Steve shared everything. Early on, after about three years of carrying around a basket of his shirts that I never ironed, we used to joke about this ceremonial basket of shirts, he decided it would be okay to wear shirts that you could just take out of the dryer and hang up. But now I notice that he's gone back to only natural cotton. But he has to iron them! He was, I think, way before his time on some of that stuff. I wouldn't say it was a perfect sharing. The hard part was—here's the hard part. We were brought up to believe it was our job.

Biagi: You mean women.

Katz: Women. So even when the men contributed—and I think Stephen was wonderful about that, really (he should hear me say this; he would be amazed), you know, it wasn't good enough because it wasn't the way we were brought up to do it. We weren't able to let go of it, because I think there was a lot of guilt that it was our job. So, you know, he'd do it, and I'd do it behind him and then be angry about it.

Biagi: You mentioned NOW, National Organization for Women. When did you get involved with NOW?

Katz: I didn't really get involved with NOW; it's just that they ran this day care center. I got involved with some of those people. I was never much of a joiner, and I'm still not. I mean, one of the things you notice very much certainly as you move up professionally is that there's a lot of networking done among the men. But I don't think there's ever been any system of networking among the women. I was never much of a joiner of anything.

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Biagi: You weren't at that time. You just connected with these women because you had a need for child care.

Katz: Yes. I had kids, and they ran what seemed to me to be a very good child care center. And there were so few of them at that time. You remember this is when I was twenty-seven, so there were so few centers. I remember one teacher named Mark. He would hug those kids and cuddle those kids. Now that could never happen. We were just thrilled at that. But he was so close to them and such a father image in how he would handle them, really. I mean, now you think of that and you just like say, "Oh, my God! How could that have happened? How could we have let that happen?" It was such a different time, really. We considered ourselves so lucky to have a man who was caring of the children at this center, and that could never—I mean, we lost something, because now we look at every man who touches children as a potential problem.

Biagi: In 1980, what happened?

Katz: In 1980—let's see. I was working at the Herald and I became an editor.

Biagi: Had you been reporting all the time until you became editor?

Katz: Yes. I had been reporting. At that point I was a political reporter. I covered the State House, covered health and human services. I had done some investigative reporting. I covered the first [Governor Michael] Dukakis administration, and actually got a nice note from Kitty Dukakis as I wrote about his walk away from the State House the first time. Then I covered the [Governor Edward M.] King administration. Governor King really disliked me because he felt women belonged in one of two places, and neither of them were out of the house. He and I had many words. He was a one-term governor, pro football player.

Biagi: Republican or Democrat?

Katz: Republican. He was just the opposite of Governor Dukakis. He had many deals and many connections.

Biagi: Were there other women covering politics in Boston?

Katz: Yes. Oh, yes. There was a woman named Ann from the Patriot-Ledger. There were definitely women at the Globe when I was there. Yes, there were women in the newsroom at this point—young. They were all young.

Biagi: Younger than you or as young?

Katz: About my age. There were definitely women covering issues other than the features. I think women started coming in as reporters in quite large numbers in the late seventies.

Biagi: Were you aware of any of the lawsuits that were going on at the time in newsrooms for women's rights?

Katz: No, and I've actually become friendly with, say, Peg Simpson. No, I wasn't aware of anything. I mean, I really, when you think about it, was out of touch. I have to say, honestly, which may be different than anybody else, that nobody ever discriminated against me that I know of—ever. In fact, my being a woman, certainly in later career, helped.

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Biagi: Why? Why do you say that? Why do you feel that way? What evidence?

Katz: For example, when I left Baltimore, there were very few women in management, and I was a managing editor. Absolutely every chain wanted to talk to me. I think it was a time when they were starting to look for diversity, and at that point "diversity" meant women. I got a lot of job offers from people who had never even met me. So it certainly wasn't because of my charm that they wanted me.

Clearly one of the reasons Gannett was so attracted to me was because I was a woman. I was a pretty good journalist, too. But it certainly helped. Then right before I was hired here, there had been a delegation of women in the newsroom who went to Chris [Anderson] and said, "We feel we need more women at management levels," higher than assistant metro editor levels. The very next assistant managing editor job that opened up was me. Could I have got that job if I was the same person and a man? I'll bet not.

Biagi: Think not?

Katz: No. Now, after that, I don't think it's made any difference, because I don't even think Chris thinks of me as a woman. I'm sure that it made absolutely no difference to the publisher, although we joke about it a little bit. I am sure that it made no difference to him. But just within the last two years, the Baltimore Sun solicited me for a job and they wanted a woman for that job. They hired a woman for that job. So I think for women in management, this is a very, very good time. I've been solicited for a lot of jobs since I've been here, and some of it may be because I'm the most brilliant journalist in America, some of it may be because this paper has gotten an incredible reputation for innovation. They don't laugh at us anymore like they used to. But I'm sure some of it is also because I'm a woman. It's sure easier. In this day and age, the last person you would want to be is a fifty-year-old white male in journalism.

Biagi: But being a fifty-year-old white female wouldn't be a bad thing to be?

Katz: We'll find out. Being a female isn't any help to me anymore, I don't think.

Biagi: No.

Katz: At this level. Editor level. If it's true that there are only seven women who are editors at papers over 100,000, although I know there are a lot more managing editors, what it says to me is that there is still a glass ceiling; it's just up a little higher. If there aren't any other women in the top thirty papers who are editors—that's shameful. That says to me there still is a glass ceiling. But, you know, there are those who have the conspiracy theories, and there are those who believe, like me, that you tend to hire people who are like you. Since I've come to this newsroom, there are lots more women in management jobs—maybe not quite half, but almost half.

Biagi: Because you've hired them?

Katz: Yes, because we just look—a lot of them were here. It's not like they came from Mars or anything. Quite a lot of our women managers were here. It's just that we looked at them a little differently.

Biagi: Meaning "we"?

Katz: We, me. Me and the boys I work with, my bosses.

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Biagi: What do you mean, differently?

Katz: Well, you know, it carried some authority when I said, "Hey, these people could do this job." And while the Los Angeles Times still has a lot of women complaining there's a glass ceiling, this weekend I went a conference with a woman who is an editor here, in Phoenix, a conference of Sunday feature editors, and we were talking. We took a little trip together, she and I, a side trip on Saturday. She basically said, "Being a woman, we don't even think about that in our newsroom anymore, being a woman getting top jobs. We don't even think about that." I think that's true. We have set out now with great deliberation to hire more minorities.

Biagi: Do you think that change is a product of you being here?

Katz: The minority stuff?

Biagi: No, women being here.

Katz: Yes. I think the truth is—I am not a believer in a conspiracy theory. I'm a believer that you tend to hire people who are like yourself or you feel comfortable with them. So that while white men hired a lot of white men, I work with white men, but I also knew women, so we hired more women. It's really, to me, a very simple thing.

Biagi: Let's go back to 1980. We've got you with Kitty Dukakis and Michael Dukakis and Edward M. King, covering politics.

Katz: Covering politics, covering the State House. There were women there. So this was the Hearst Herald American now, not the old Republican Herald Traveler. This was the bastard mix of the screaming tabloid Record American that had been owned by Hearst and the incredibly conservative broad sheet—and still broad sheet—Herald Traveler that had been owned by a private company, but because of a FCC ruling—they also owned a TV station in Boston—they had to divest themselves of the paper, and Hearst picked it up. So it became a sort of hybrid, with the two staffs not really even talking to each other. You can imagine. You had these wild and crazy tabloid people, in the true tabloid sense.

Biagi: Who had been there a long time.

Katz: Who had been there a long time. We had a Captain Queeg type who was the city editor. He scared me to death. And a lot of old kooks—I mean, wonderful characters, some of them from the Herald and some of them from the Traveler. There were a lot of young people, and there was a sign over the city desk, which basically said that old people know more than young people. It was a clever saying; I can't remember. But it basically said, "Just because you're young, don't think you're so smart." So I was a reporter there, and my friend (now friend) Charlie O'Brien had by this time moved from the Patriot-Ledger to be the political editor at the Herald, and I was working for him once more.

Biagi: Did you work in a separate bureau in Boston, covering politics, or did you work at the newspaper?

Katz: Depending on my job. They had a bureau at the State House, and sometimes I worked there, but I covered health and human services at one point, so then I was in and out of the State House. When I covered the governor, I worked at the State House. It was only just a few blocks away.

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Biagi: Were there women in the bureau at the State House?

Katz: Not other women in our bureau, but there were other women, definitely. Not a lot, but there were definitely other women at the State House from other papers, yes. Norma Nathan, one of the greats of gossip journalism, the "Eye," was there at that time covering for the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune. She was a reporter then. And there was another woman from the Patriot-Ledger; I can't remember her name. There were a lot of women at that time coming up the ranks.

Biagi: Because politics and political coverage has been an area where women haven't particularly spent a lot of time, and complained about not being assigned to cover politics in a lot of State Houses.

Katz: Really? That surprises me. I wouldn't say women dominated or even came close to a third, but there were definitely some. Shelley Cohen was there for the AP [Associated Press]. Oh, there were quite a few.

Biagi: In California that's not true. The legislative coverage is very minimal.

Katz: Well, in Boston there were quite a few women. Definitely dominated by men, but if I can think of three names off the top of my head, you know there were ten. And Charlie [O'Brien] was my boss. Peggy Simpson was covering Washington for us, so we had a woman in Washington, too.

Biagi: Is that how you met her?

Katz: That's how I met her. I didn't really ever meet her at that time, but that's how I got to know about her, and eventually when she'd fly up, we met. But obviously during that time the suit had happened with AP. I heard of none of that.

Biagi: You didn't know about it. Was there any union or feminist activity in the newsroom where you were?

Katz: No.

Biagi: Were there any complaints filed that you know about?

Katz: No. No. There was probably what would today be considered sexual harassment on many occasions, but, you know, it's like RSI [Repetitive Stress Syndrome]. I'm sure there are a lot of people who had the equivalent of RSI, but they didn't know that it existed. There was a union, but I can't ever think of anybody filing a sexual harassment claim.

Biagi: You were a member of the union, but not active in the union?

Katz: No, I wasn't a member of the union, because what happened was that soon after I got there, they had a layoff. I was a member of the union when I first came to the Boston Herald, but they had a layoff. And they liked me a lot, so they reclassified me and got me out of the union.

Biagi: Which was executive, so called?

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Katz: I don't know what it was. It was an exempt position. That was when I decided I didn't like unions very much, because I had paid my little dues, I had worked my buns off, and it didn't matter. The quality of my work meant nothing. I was the last one hired, so I was out.

Biagi: But you weren't out.

Katz: No, I wasn't out, but if it was up to the union, I would have been out. So people who I thought didn't deserve to have jobs were going to stay. I mean, the paper saved me. The management saved me.

Biagi: So in 1980—

Katz: So in 1980, one day—I was a very loud-mouth reporter. I always said what I thought. I was chain-smoking.

Biagi: You were chain-smoking.

Katz: Oh, I was a terrible chain-smoker.

Biagi: Had you been a chain-smoker for a long time?

Katz: Yes. Well, probably since I—

Biagi: When did you start smoking, just out of curiosity?

Katz: Well, I went to this girls' boarding school, I told you, and we used to smoke whenever we could get out, and make ourselves sick. I'm sure I started in college, where I was allowed. My mother was a chain-smoker and my father smoked, too. Steve smoked worse than me. I smoked three packs a day. Steve had asthma, and when he was about twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, in there, his doctor told him he was going to get emphysema, and he stopped dead. But I couldn't stop.

I was also at this time stringing a little bit in Boston for the New York Times, and I remember one day I did a story for us and a story for them, and I smoked so much that I couldn't talk. I was just lighting them one after the other. Winston mentholated longs. They were probably about 35¢ a pack, which was a lot at the time. I laugh now. I threw the cigarettes away and said, "This is it. This is crazy." My chest hurt. I said, "This is crazy. I'm killing myself." So I threw them away. At the end of the day, I picked them up out of the waste basket and I put them in my pocket, but I never smoked again. I carried them for a year, but I never smoked again.

Biagi: So you did stop.

Katz: I did stop.

Biagi: Let me turn the tape over.

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[End Tape 1, Side B; Begin Tape 2, Side A]

Biagi: Let's talk a little bit, then, about your average work day at this point. You're talking about an awful lot of work in one day. You're talking about doing stories for the New York Times and writing for the paper at the same time. Were you home very much?

Katz: No. No.

Biagi: And your kids were now—

Katz: Let's see. It wasn't a lot of stories for the New York Times—very few. Matthew was born in 1971 and Jenny was born in '73.

Biagi: So they're younger than ten.

Katz: Yes. Oh, much younger than ten. Matthew was nine, and Jenny was seven.

Biagi: So your average day, would you say, was a twelve-hour day, work day?

Katz: Yes. That's been my day my whole life.

Biagi: So when did you see your family?

Katz: I didn't. I saw them on the weekend.

Biagi: You did have weekends off? Or did you work weekends?

Katz: I think by that time I had weekends off. Actually, I have to correct the record here. I stopped smoking in my first incarnation at the Herald. It was 1970 that I stopped. So I was at the Herald Traveler. It was the same situation, and I was working for the Times then and smoking up a storm. So by this time, 1980, I was not smoking. I hadn't smoked in ten years.

But seeing your family. Well, that was a problem, you know. I saw them when I got home at night, whenever that was, and I saw them on the weekend. I think I had Saturday and Sunday off. I'm sure at some point I must have worked on a weekend day, but I don't really remember. At this point when I covered the legislature, I know I had Saturday and Sunday off. So I saw them on the weekends.

Biagi: Did you think about it as ever being the choice that your mother thought you should make—in other words, taking care of your family or having a job?

Katz: No. I mean, I knew that I would be a terrible stay-at-home mother. In fact, both the times in my life that I had to stay at home and be a stay-at-home mother, I created other things to do. I think my kids would have been far worse off if I had stayed at home. I may have killed them both. [Laughter.]

Biagi: [Laughter.] So the old argument that if women stayed at home, that their children would be better off, you don't think it's necessarily true?

Katz: There was a point in my life when the Baltimore News American folded, where I could have gone to work for Johns Hopkins University as some kind of PR expert, and that would have meant we didn't have to move, and that would have meant I would have had regular hours.

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My daughter said to me something like, "Don't do this. You'll hate it and you'll make us miserable." [Laughter.]

Biagi: How old was she when she said that?

Katz: Well, right before we came out here, so it was in 1986. She said, "You can't do this. You love what you do so much." And then she said, "And you'll make our lives miserable." And I think she was probably right. I mean, when my son was about seven, his best friend drowned, lived on our street. Of course, being the crazy Jewish mother I was, I rushed him immediately to a psychiatrist to talk about this, get this out, and talk about it. This poor little boy; it was so sad. Then Steve and I went a couple of times to see this doctor. But one of the things she said was—because we must have talked about our lives at that time—was, "The way it's supposed to be is, you do what you want to do and the children fall behind. They come behind." Basically the lesson was, you don't spend your life doing for your children. And although I think I have in many ways carried on that old Jewish mother ethos of doing for my children, maybe too much, even, in a lot of ways, I took what she said to heart. I knew that I loved what I did so much, I would have paid people to let me do it. Incredibly, they were paying me. I would not have been happy at home, and they would have felt it. So, you know, there was all that crap about quality time. I mean, I just tried to do the best I could. When I became a single mother, I just tried to do the best I could. Then it became an issue of putting food on the table and clothing on their bodies and a roof over our heads, but early on that was never the issue. But it was also an issue of, you know, you're a person, too. You've only got one life to live. When you find something that you love so much, you have to go for it.

There was a tug there, because you obviously love these kids so much, too, but obviously—I mean, I think they turned out to be pretty good kids. Some of it, they grew themselves up. Maybe we had good housekeepers, too. I don't know. But they turned out fine and have never been a problem in their whole lives. Hopefully I didn't make them too crazy. They understood what it meant for me to work. I think they did. Although I have to say that Matthew, my son, hated newspapers so much when he was little, he couldn't stand the smell of them. I don't know what that tells you.

Biagi: Is that right?

Katz: For a long time. So maybe that was his little protest.

Biagi: In the room?

Katz: In the room. He couldn't even be around them.

Biagi: The ink?

Katz: Just he couldn't even stand the smell of them. So maybe that was his little protest. Although when he got in high school out here, he joined the newspaper. They invited certain kids to become part of the newspaper, and he did, because he thought it would help him get into a better college. He was that kind of kid. But he really got into it. I mean, he became a crazy journalist. Then he was editor of the school paper, and I swear, in his last year of high school when he was editor, he probably missed half his classes making that paper the most wonderful thing. He did Freedom of Information [Act] requests on the high school administration. It's too bad in some ways that he didn't go on with it. But I did not encourage him to do that.

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Biagi: When you say you loved it too much to give it up, what do you love about it?

Katz: It's like a constant adrenalin rush. I mean, I love the fact that it's not a nine-to-five job. I love the fact that you meet incredibly interesting people. I mean, every day you can be a new—it's different now, what I do, but when I was a reporter, every day you could be somebody new, have a new profession, because you were writing about someone new. It was never boring. I've been in this field for twenty-five years. I've never been bored once, not even once bored. Sometimes I didn't like assignments, but I just loved the job. It made me feel alive, I think. And, you know, I like knowing things before everybody else. I like the people. They were so exciting, both the people in the newsroom and out. It was far more than a job; it was a way of life for me, and it always has been.

Biagi: It still is, would you say?

Katz: Oh, yes. Absolutely. I'm a junkie. If I didn't do this, I would be addicted to something else, surely.

Biagi: What are you addicted to?

Katz: What I'm addicted to about it? I mean, I'm just addicted to information, I guess. I started out wanting to change the world, and I still want to do that, but I realize there's a lot of different kinds of changes that you have to make now. I'm not quite the idealist I was. I'm constantly telling my assistant that life isn't always fair, that he should not believe so. But I mean, I started out like most other people in the sixties thinking that if you became a journalist, you could actually make a difference. And I think you can. It's just a different kind of difference.

Biagi: In 1980—we're trying to get off of 1980 here.

Katz: In 1980 I became editor—as a punishment.

Biagi: [Laughter.] Why do you say that?

Katz: Because it was a punishment.

Biagi: For what?

Katz: For shooting off my mouth one more time in the newsroom. My boss, Charlie O'Brien, my now friend and then boss, he's a real low-key kind of guy, and nothing could ever excite him. No story could ever make him smile. I brought him a story that I was convinced was a page-one story, and he basically said it was just one more piece of bureaucratic bullshit and one more step in the process. He was absolutely right.

Biagi: What was the story about?

Katz: Oh, I don't even know. It was some human service department story.

Biagi: A program, you think?

Katz: Yes. He was absolutely right. He was ahead of his time. But I wasn't going to give in. I was mad, and I threw a tantrum in the newsroom and made many comments about his manhood and his journalistic abilities. The editor of the paper, Don Forst, hearing the commotion,

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came out and saw me ranting and raving, and saw Charlie sitting there, listening, taking it all in. Don is very nasal. He's saying, "Do you think you can do better than him?" And I said, "Any asshole can do better than him." And the next day when I came to work, there was a sign on the bulletin board that said that I was the metro editor. I had been named metro editor. And underneath, somebody—you know those red crayon pencils we used to have then?—wrote, "A mistake." I still have that framed at home. That was in April, I think, the month of April. So I became metro editor.

Now, you have to understand what the metro editor was at the Boston Herald. [Laughter.] There was a city editor. So this had nothing to do with like real news. The metro staff was a staff of drunks, old kooks, and leftovers.

Biagi: Any women?

Katz: No. There were women at this paper, but, no, there were no women.

Biagi: About how many?

Katz: My assistant had no teeth. He was a great guy, though.

Biagi: How many people were on the metro staff?

Katz: About fourteen. And you'd never know, when you came in from day to day, if they would be there or be at the dry-out farm. [Laughter.] It was like, "Where's Frank?" "He's in New Hampshire." That was the secret word for—Hearst had their own place where they took people to dry out. The assistant managing editor for administration would take these people and slip them off to get sober.

Biagi: So you had a real rarin'-to-go staff.

Katz: They hated me. They hated the fact that I was younger than they were. They hated, hated, hated the fact that I was a woman. Most of them were Irish and didn't like Jews. So I had everything going against me—everything. My assistant's name was Danny—I want to say Sullivan. He was missing all his front teeth, but he was a great guy. I mean, he hated me, too. These were all like leftovers, the leftovers of the paper.

Biagi: Left over from—

Katz: From—I don't know. They couldn't do anything. They were the deadwood. Our assignment was—I don't even know what our assignment was. I used to say it was to cover everything from like Maine to Virginia, but it was whatever we could do. There was one guy who was so mentally ill, he was on all kinds of drugs. He was like in a stupor most of the time. It was a staff of losers, basically, and I was the editor.

Biagi: [Laughter.] You were their coach.

Katz: I was the editor, and it was just my punishment for being a big mouth. I think I had a couple of kids, too, at some point, because I remember that Mike Cuniff, whose name I just recently noticed in E&P—he's writing a column for them—he was a young reporter at the time, and he worked with me, too. So I might have had a couple of young kids as well as this bunch of losers. They were wonderful people; don't get me wrong. I mean, I grew to really love them, and,

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unbelievably, they grew to really like me, too. My goal was to move them an inch a day. I'm not a very patient person, but I soon learned that no one had ever shown any interest in them. They were the losers and nobody expected them to do anything.

Biagi: Did they put you at a desk in the middle of this group, or were you separate?

Katz: No, you were in a horseshoe. The editors all sat in a horseshoe, and I was way at the end of the horseshoe, past the wire editor. I mean, any further on the horseshoe, I would have fallen off. It's like below the salt. Any further, and this Danny and I would have been off the end. We were way behind Cal Lindenbergh, the wire editor, who had like a ponytail down to his knees and was fascinated by the Tamils. I mean, we were just the lowest of the low. But Don Forst was pretty funny and very talented, so I was lucky there, and I got to go to the daily meetings.

Little by little, I learned. First, I tried to make everybody write like me, and, of course, they couldn't write at all, so that was real difficult. I mean, it was probably a really good way to start, because I learned how to move a staff that could do nothing, to do something, and how to motivate them.

Biagi: How do you do this? How did you learn to do that?

Katz: I brought my mothering skills and my teaching skills, you know. Something I've continually used is to show an interest in them as people. Even if I didn't care at all, I would ask about their wives and their children and look at innumerable pictures of their kids doing innumerable things. I really learned about them as people, and I've tried to do that with every staff, treat them as individuals instead of this lump group. Then I also learned to go for their strengths, because, you know, at one point in their life, they weren't all bad, and I learned to find out their strengths and their areas of pride, and then work on that. But when I first became their editor, they truly hated me.

Biagi: What was the evidence of that?

Katz: Many of them wouldn't talk to me for a while. But, you know, I was pretty persistent, as I have always been in my life, and they eventually adjusted. At Christmas, they bought me a handbag. They all chipped in and bought me a beautiful, beautiful leather handbag, and the person who wrote "A mistake" said that he had made a mistake, which was nice, because it was an anonymous thing. So I basically worked with them. They were a tough bunch.

During that time, Steve and I were also feeling, "Is this all there is to life?" You know that mid-thirties or early thirties crisis. "Is this it? We have this beautiful house, these two cars. We have these wonderful two children. Steve's making good money. I'm making good money. Are we going to drive the Mass. Pike extension every day for the rest of our lives?" One day we had dinner with some friends of ours who brought along a man who had just come back from Singapore, teaching law at the University of Singapore. Steve was pretty interested in this. The guy said that Singapore was looking for law professors. Steve had always missed teaching. So he wrote them a letter and asked if they needed any law professors, and, of course, because of his London background, they wrote back and said, "Please fly to New York and meet the ambassador to Singapore and let's talk about it." He did, and was hired.

At the same time, Newsday came after me. You asked about knowing what was happening to women in journalism at this time. This was the only time in my whole life I knew something was happening, because I had heard from Don Forst and Jim Toedtman that Newsday had had

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a suit filed against it. In fact, Jim was part of that suit because he had once asked a woman reporter to stop and pick up a paint chip on her way into the office. Anyway, there had been some kind of sexual discrimination suit, and Newsday was looking to hire women to blunt it. So they solicited me.

Biagi: This would be what time? 1981?

Katz: It was June, '80.

Biagi: So the metro assignment was earlier than that, or was it about the same time?

Katz: It was just right before that. I did that for about a year, I guess. Somewhere on my résumé it will tell you. It might have even been June '79 to June 1980. I was at the Globe from 1975 to 1978. '78 to '80 I was at the Herald. I wanted to go to Newsday, a big paper.

Biagi: On Long Island? Did they want you on Long Island?

Katz: Yes. New York was just little then. So I wanted to go. Steve wanted to go to Singapore. We finally asked Singapore to wait a year, and they did. They said, "Sure. Come next year. That's fine." So Steve applied to Columbia. He already had a B.A. degree, a law degree, and a master's in international law. The man was now going to take a master's of international affairs, yet another master's. It's a two-year program, but since Steve had already done London, they said he could do it in a year. Our deal was I would go to Newsday for a year, he would go there for a year, and then we would go to Singapore. Well, we didn't tell Newsday that, of course. So I got to Newsday.

Biagi: Did you move to Long Island?

Katz: We moved to Queens, the worst of both worlds—the worst of the suburbs, the worst of the city—Bayside, Queens. We rented the top of a house. It was a split-level house, and the basement was a dentist's office. It was on Bell Boulevard, Bayside. We moved there. We gave up this wonderful house that we loved, that we truly loved in Massachusetts.

Biagi: Did you sell it?

Katz: No, we rented it and moved to Queens. We moved to the house in Queens, and I went to work for Newsday and he went to Columbia. He loved school, again. I mean, if he had been born years ago, Steve would have been one of those rabbis who studied the Torah all day. He loved it. Although he was a hellion in college, somewhere after college he found himself as a student and as a professor.

I went to Newsday, and I worked for the first three months on the copy desk. It was terrible. Nobody ever laughed on the Newsday copy desk. I don't have the copy editor kind of mind. I could see the holes in the stories, but I could never see the spelling mistakes. But they had a program at the time—I don't know if they still do—that said that basically anybody coming on at the editor level would spend a few months on the copy desk. It was a very valuable idea, actually, because you really learned how to run before you fly.

After about three months, I became a night editor, which was a job I really liked in terms of my kids, because I didn't have to be there till 9:30 p.m., and I worked till 4:30 a.m., whatever it was.

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I'd get home around five, I'd watch TV for an hour, I'd get the kids up, give them breakfast, send them off to school, go to bed.

Biagi: Steve would go to school.

Katz: Steve would go to school. We'd all have breakfast, and I'd go to bed. Steve would go to school, I'd go to sleep, sleep from about 8:30 to one. I'd have one to three to do all the errands. The kids would come home at three. I'd have the afternoon with them, and then dinner with the family, and then put them to bed, and go to work. I thought that was the best shift of all. I spent a lot of time with the kids then, and I did that for a while, I don't know how long, two months, six months. Well, I was only there about fourteen months, so it couldn't have been very long.

Then I became the Sunday projects editor. I worked on Saturday. It is exactly what it says it was. I was in charge of all the projects.

I came in June, and the next June we were supposed to go to Singapore, but Steve got a call from the United Nations, asking if he wanted to take a temporary job in Austria for three months. Now I have to back up a little. Years before, when Steve first started in international law, his expertise was ocean law. He got offered a job at the U.N. to work on the Law of the Sea Conference. Same deal—three months. The Law of the Sea Conference was only supposed to be three months. We had just come back to America. You know, I was really against it, saying, "You've got two children. You just bought a house. How can you just drop your law practice, working for this very prestigious law firm? We have all these commitments. And for a three-month job." So he turned it down. The Law of the Sea Conference lasted twelve years. He was always sorry, and so was I.

So here was another chance for a U.N. job. Same thing: three months. But this time I said, "Go for it." Of course, it turned out, he's still there, still with the U.N. That was in 1981. It's now 1992. So the three-month job turned into a career. We never did get to Singapore.

Biagi: You stayed at Newsday?

Katz: I stayed at Newsday for a few months. Steve literally left for Austria the next day. He was supposed to go to Singapore on a Friday; on Thursday he left for Austria. We sent back the tickets to Singapore, said, "Sorry." I stayed at Newsday from June till October 1981, and resigned and went to Austria with my two kids, Steve worked as a lawyer for UNCITRAL, United Nations Commission on International Trade Law. At the beginning, I was a full-time wife and mother, which was a new role for me, and it was especially a new role learning to be a diplomat's wife. First of all, we had a problem because our stuff took four months to get there, and all I brought was jeans. You know, the other wives, even those who would have worn jeans at home in America, wore suits and bows in Austria. It was really awful. I didn't get it at all from day one, you know.

Biagi: Were there a lot of receptions and formal affairs?

Katz: Yes, lots of stuff.

Biagi: You were obligated to attend?

Katz: No, not so much of that. It was such a clique. Your kids went to school together at the American School. All the families hung around together. It was like living in one big dorm all

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the time. The husbands all worked together, but none of the wives worked. In fact, you weren't supposed to work. So it was a very hard time for me. Of course, I didn't speak German. I have no facility for languages. So I went to "German as a second language" school and met some very interesting people there, actually, and tried my damnedest to learn German, but never really got beyond present tense. I really did feel kind of out of it. I met a lot of wonderful friends. I managed to find plenty to do, as I always did.

Biagi: What did you do?

Katz: For a while I was editor of an English-language weekly newspaper called The Danube Weekly.

Biagi: How did you find that job?

Katz: A woman named Barbara Gerber, who was then married to the AP bureau chief in Vienna, met me at one of these club functions you would go to when you're desperate, and she recruited me. How the hell she got involved with them, I don't know. Barbara's the kind of person who's never had a full-time job at anything, but is always, always into something. After I left Austria, she became the representative in New York for Trivial Pursuit and wrote Trivial Pursuit games for Germany, Austria, and Scandinavia. I mean, she always had an angle. She's here now in Los Angeles, which is funny, and we still are friends. She still hasn't got a job, but she's got an angle, and she's wonderful.

So she recruited me, and we ran this little newspaper. I was pretty awful at it, I see now. If I knew then what I know now, we could have made a great paper. [Tape interruption.]

Biagi: We're at a point where we can at least talk about something we've just been talking about with the tape turned off, which is how this business captured you, in a sense.

Katz: It does. It captures you and never lets you go. I mean, it's with you day and night. You can't leave it and go home and forget it. Maybe copy editors can, but I like to think that even they don't really turn off that side of their brain. It's like a drug. It's like drugs. I think that people who truly succeed, if you look at what they have in common, is that they're obsessed.

Biagi: By newspapers, by the news, by constant change? What is obsessive?

Katz: The pace of it, the constant bombardment with new things and information, the fact that you're meeting the most interesting people. And yet, you know, people talk often about how you can be on the sidelines as an auxiliary, never having to commit to life. That's another interesting theory.

Biagi: You can watch it.

Katz: Yes. I was in the hospital this year and spent a lot of time with doctors and nurses, and they're sort of the way we are. I remember one night walking around the nurses' station with one of the nurses working in intensive care. There was one patient who was thirty and he was dying, bleeding to death, and the nurses and doctors who were working on him were talking about their holidays. They were working like crazy over him, but it was like he wasn't there. It was like they were blocking it out. They were joking, you know. I was appalled. I could never have done that—never, ever, because you're so close. Here we have that distance from people. We tend to

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act that way, too, of course. We make plenty of macabre jokes about the people we cover, the sad things we cover, but there's still a little bit of difference.

But while I was a reporter, I was out there trying to save everybody, absolutely everybody, and I see it in my young reporters, too. What I've learned is that sometimes the victims aren't always the people you think of as victims when you're young, that there's more to it than saving the homeless people or saving mothers on welfare or saving the battered wives. It's a lot more complicated than I used to think.

Biagi: Going back to the intensive care unit, I remember when I talked to you in July in the intensive care unit, and you were having a cellular phone delivered to the intensive care unit.

Katz: Right.

Biagi: Do you think that was an unusual request? Had it ever happened in that particular place before?

Katz: No. They had never had anybody in the intensive care unit who brought their hair dryer and their cellular phone. But a lot of the people, I have to say, were a lot sicker than I was. I was supposedly very sick, but I didn't feel very sick. I had some recruiting to do and some work to do. And it was pretty funny when I'd call up people to talk to them about coming here to work, and the phone would sort of go out, and I'd say, "That's the guy next door, his oxygen. Just hang on a minute. It'll come right back." Or, "If this phone goes out or starts off all the heart machines in this unit, don't worry. I'll call you right back."

Biagi: Would you say that's part of the obsession?

Katz: Yes, that's part of it. You can't leave it alone. Wherever I am in the world, pretty much, I call the paper every night at a certain time. I'm trying to pull away from that now because I'm not the managing editor anymore; I'm the editor. That's the managing editor's job.

Biagi: What time did you call?

Katz: Around seven o'clock, six o'clock, to see what was going on.

Biagi: Was there a significance of that time?

Katz: Just to see what was on page one, see what they had thought about it. The only time that I can remember in history since I've been in these kinds of jobs that I didn't call was when I was in Australia and New Zealand, and, boy, it was hard for me not to do it. But I said, "I'm not going to do that anymore. I'm going to take a real vacation."

Biagi: That was when?

Katz: That was three years ago. My daughter's wind ensemble played in the Sydney Opera House, and I went as a chaperone. They played in New Zealand, too, and I went along for ten days—the longest vacation I've ever taken.

Biagi: You haven't taken a lot of vacations?

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Katz: No. Even being sick all this time this year, I still have six and a half weeks left of vacation held over. I have a month's vacation every year, but I've never been able to take that much.

Biagi: So at any one time, you've been off a week at a time, perhaps, at the most?

Katz: A week.

Biagi: Ten days was the longest?

Katz: Ten days was a really long time. It's not that I don't ever leave this place. I was in Phoenix last weekend for a conference. I'm going to Hawaii.

Biagi: A business-related conference.

Katz: Business related, but it is sort of—I mean, they are fun and you usually take a day and do something else. I'm going to Hawaii next week for a convention, and I'm going to take two days at the beginning of that for some time off. But I don't know, I just have not ever taken all—I mean, a month's a long time. It seems like I'm out of the newsroom for a lot at different things. So, you know, I really look at going to Hawaii, even though it is a convention, as a holiday. There will be plenty of work, but it will be plenty of fun, too, so to me that's sort of like a vacation.

Biagi: A working vacation kind of thing.

Katz: It's a working vacation, so I see it as it's enough of a break to almost be a vacation. So I think of that as a vacation, Hawaii, even though it's clearly going to be a lot of work.

Biagi: And you couldn't convince any of the staff here that it was work, though, do you think?

Katz: No, they see it as one of my many junkets. It actually is work. Last year it was really work, because I was in charge of the floor monitors at the convention.

Biagi: What convention is this?

Katz: Associated Press managing editors. I was elected to the board, and I was in charge of the floor monitors, which meant I had to be there all the time, which really was a bit of a drag. [Laughter.] Usually you take one afternoon and play hookey, but I had to be there every minute. This year they asked me to do it again, but I said I was recovering from major surgery and could absolutely not stand on my feet that long. So luckily I have no assignments.

Biagi: Let's go back to Barbara Gerber and The Danube Weekly.

Katz: And a publisher named Anjun. I only remember the name because my kids made up some horrid poem about him. Anjun was Pakistani. I never really knew who owned The Danube Weekly. This was a real tiny operation in an apartment—who knew who paid for that— an apartment in Vienna next to [Sigmund] Freud's house. We had a staff of some Austrians and some young American kids who didn't speak German. It was really kind of fun. What I tried to do, which I see now was an enormous mistake, but at the time I didn't know any better, was to make it a weekly newspaper. Because Barbara's husband was the AP bureau chief there, we got the AP for sort of trial-free, and we used that and tried to make it like a news magazine. That was probably a terrible mistake, I think now.

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Biagi: Why?

Katz: Because what it should have been was a guide for all those English-speaking people like me who lived in Vienna, with lots about entertainment and things to do. That's what we should have done, but we didn't. But the paper went on, and there was some pretty interesting people who worked for it, too, including a couple of ex-Nazis.

Biagi: And there you are.

Katz: Right. But we could never talk. Just one example. The auto editor's name was Heinz Steiner, and he didn't speak English and I didn't speak German. We could sit around and do sign language to each other. But I was still going to school to learn German, so I learned a little, and he knew a little English. So around Passover time—I'm not religious, but when you live in Austria, you sort of feel a little more connection with your roots—and around Passover I decided I was going to get some matzoh and bring it home to my kids. Barbara was also a Jew. I brought the matzoh to work, and Heinz asked what it was. I told him, and he said, in German, "Oh, that's Jew bread." And I said, "Yes." And he asked if I was Jewish, and I said, "Yes." He said during the war he had worked in "Mr. Hitler's Luftwaffe," and I said, oh, that was very interesting. Then he said, "You know, there used to be a lot of Jews here, but they all moved to New York." I thought that was the greatest line I've ever heard. I said, "No, Heinz, I don't think that's what happened." [Laughter.]

Biagi: That's what he was told. [Laughter.]

Katz: That's what he thought. He just bombed a few. I said, "I don't think that's what happened to them. They didn't all move to New York. A few of them stayed here, unfortunately."

Anjun was a real pain, as I recall, and he was one of those publishers who really wanted to make it advertorial. Another thing I didn't really realize, which I do now, you know—you can really look in hindsight at things—we were trying to put American standards on to European journalism. In Europe, often you'll sell an ad on a page and write a little something about the subject of the ad in the news column. He wanted that. Of course, I was still this incredibly idealistic person, and I couldn't stand for that. One day Barbara and I and the whole staff quit. When I went to Columbia journalism, John Hohenberg, one of the professors (or maybe it was Melvin Mencher), always said, "If you feel things are unethical, you should just up and quit." Well, of course, never in my life was I able to do that, because I always needed the money. But here I didn't need the money or the job. I was probably only making about thirty-five bucks a week. It was the first time in my life I was ever able to do that. So I quit, and the whole staff quit, too. They just hired a whole new staff, and we had no more jobs.

Biagi: [Laughter.] You made your statement.

Katz: And we made our statement. After that, I basically devoted what little time I had left in Austria, freelancing and traveling with my kids and just sort of hanging around and having a good time. It wasn't so bad. I could always find things to do.

Biagi: Then why did that end?

Katz: Well, I left my husband.

Biagi: That ended.

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Katz: On February 19, 1983, I came back to America with my kids.

Biagi: Was that at all professionally driven, the fact that you didn't have something to do there, or it was personal?

Katz: It was all personal. When I left Newsday, I never really said that we were going forever to Austria. When I was in Austria, all the Poles were coming out of Poland as fast as they could. Lots of them came to Austria, and I did lots of work for Newsday. It was real interesting, because I think I said earlier that for four months our stuff was in transit. We lived in an apartment with sleeping bags and four forks, four spoons, four knives, four plates, and four pillows, and a typewriter that I brought, and a phone. I sat on the floor of the apartment and wrote for Newsday. I went out and interviewed these Poles and spent a lot of time with them, did a lot of stories for Newsday on conditions at Treskirken, the camp where they interned the Poles. That was a lot of fun doing that kind of reporting. I really liked that.

Biagi: It was like being a foreign correspondent.

Katz: It was. I didn't speak German, but somehow I found a Columbia University graduate who had moved there from New Jersey. And she did translating. Anyway, I covered refugees for quite a while before I went to work for Anjun, and so I kept in touch with my Newsday boss. Around December of '82, he called me up.

Biagi: Your boss at Newsday?

Katz: Howie Schneider. And said he'd like me to come back. We'd gone to journalism school together, and although we'd never been enormously close friends, he knew—he and Jim Toedtman, who also had been my boss—Howie knew that things weren't going very well personally. So he offered me a job that he had open at that time, and I said, no, I was going to try to stick it out a little bit and see if we could make things—

[End Tape 2, Side A; Begin Tape 2, Side B]

Biagi: He said he would hold the job until July.

Katz: Until July. I could have that much time to think about it. That was very comforting to know that I wouldn't starve when I went back to America. But anyway, in February one day I just had it, and thought I needed a break from that situation, so I took my two kids and flew home.

Biagi: Did you call Schneider and tell him?

Katz: No. I wanted a break. Because I wasn't sure that I was going home. I mean, in retrospect it made a pretty big statement, my just taking off one day. At the time, my only thought was to take a break. My parents were here in California. They came here every winter to play golf. So I just went to their house and stayed with my kids for a while, didn't know what I was going to do.

Biagi: Their house in Boston?

Katz: Andover, Massachusetts. They had a condo in Andover, Massachusetts. I was staying in their house. After a couple of weeks, I called Charlie O'Brien, my friend, and met with him and talked with him, talked about what I was going to do. He was still working for the Boston Herald.

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We went out to dinner a couple of times, and I guess at the end, the second time, he said that the next week Don Forst, my old boss, was leaving the Boston Herald to go—it must have been to New York Newsday. They were having a party, and why didn't I try and come to that party and surprise everybody. So I did. I went with Charlie.

Jim Toedtman, who, as I said, had been my classmate, was there. I had worked for him at the Boston Herald. He was the managing editor. By this time he was working in Baltimore as the editor. He had a managing editor's job open, so he asked me what I planned to do, and I said I didn't really know. He asked me to meet him the next day for breakfast, which I did, and he offered me the managing editor's job.

Biagi: At?

Katz: Baltimore News American, which I took, because I had decided that I didn't really want to go back to Newsday. I'm not exactly sure why. I just decided that I wanted to start a new life, I think. Being a managing editor was a pretty good deal, I thought, even though the paper was terminally ill.

I seem to have this affinity for working for terminally ill papers. This is all part of my trying to save the world. I mean, one of the reasons I went to the Boston Herald was to try and make it better and bring it back from death. Well, it actually survived, no thanks to me. But, you know, it was sort of the same thing with the Baltimore News American. Here was this paper that they were trying to save. It really had been dead for years, or very ill, but something called to me. Those kinds of papers called to me. The challenge of trying to do a lot with nothing, I really enjoy that. Maybe it was from my initial metro editor time.

Biagi: Yes, the crowd. [Laughter.]

Katz: The crowd. Here you had the same thing, but worse!

Biagi: The whole news crew like that? [Laughter.]

Katz: So I said I would go.

Biagi: You went to work there when?

Katz: I went to work there June 1, 1983, as managing editor. I was pretty scared about that, because, you know, I had never been a managing editor. This was a very traditional paper. They had just gone through some really terrible times with Ron Martin and Jon Katz, my old boss from the Boston Globe.

Biagi: In Baltimore.

Katz: In Baltimore. My giant fear was that the staff was going to be terrified that I was a woman managing editor. They could have cared less. All they cared about was whether I related to Jon Katz.

Biagi: The staff was male, female, what?

Katz: Mixed. It was a mixed staff, but a lot of people had been there a long time. That paper had a great, great tradition.

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Biagi: The building was—

Katz: Falling apart, downtown, right on the waterfront. I mean, it was built when the waterfront was a terrible place. What had happened was the waterfront had become very chic and gentrified, and the newspaper was still there. The block that the News American was on was probably the most valuable piece of property in all of Baltimore that had not been redeveloped. The property was far more valuable than the building, and the building was far more valuable than the paper. But we forged on, you know.

Biagi: Hot type?

Katz: Oh, no. They had computers. The place was painted in this—you know that toilet green? And orange. Because they had gotten the paint cheap, and the person who chose it was colorblind. The floor was patched with different pieces of linoleum. The windows hadn't been cleaned in a hundred years, I bet, and there were stacks of newspapers against the windows. I often thought that one day one newspaper too many would just crash through, and the whole ton of clutter would fall on some pedestrian. I mean, it was the grungiest place. [Tape interruption.]

Biagi: When last we spoke, Ron Martin and Jon Katz had just left Baltimore, and you had come into the old building.

Katz: To the old, grungy building where the ladies' room was two miles away from the newsroom, and the men's room was right in the newsroom. That, to me, symbolized how women were thought of. Women could take their time and go to the ladies' room. Men might be needed right away, so the men's room was right there off the newsroom. It really symbolized how people thought of women, I think. That they couldn't do breaking news.

Biagi: And they put you at the end of the desk?

Katz: No, in Baltimore I was the managing editor, and I had an office.

Biagi: An office! A real office.

Katz: Right. Once I graduated to managing editor ranks, I was finally off the floor and I had an office very similar to this one, except much older and much grungier. It was at the back of the newsroom. The editor was in the corner office, and I sat next to him.

Biagi: If you had an agenda there, what would it have been? If you had to look back on it now, what kind of changes happened because you were there?

Katz: I think our goal was to turn the newspaper back from a yuppie newspaper, (they never even covered the opening of the legislature) to a local-local newspaper, because Baltimore is a town where local news is valued. We had a blue-collar readership, and they particularly valued that. So that was our goal, to try some things to bring the circulation back.

Biagi: For instance?

Katz: One of the things that we tried—unsuccessfully, unfortunately, but it was a great attempt—was called Sports First. It was a separate product with a separate staff, a daily newspaper with color, that basically covered local sports, with some national sports. It was a tab. The News American was a broad sheet. The last few pages were financial and local news and national news.

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So it was really aimed at the sports junkie. It was one of the few precursors of The National, and it was a very good product. The trouble was, Hearst never sold it, went out and sold it. Startup cost a million dollars, and Hearst was not willing to keep it alive for a long time.

Biagi: How long did it last?

Katz: Nine months, maybe. The problem was, they just couldn't get it out to the people. They had not figured out the delivery system, which I guess was part of the problem of The National, too. But it was a very clever and good product, and it was one of the first attempts, I would say, at niche marketing, which has now become the chic thing to do, the correct thing to do, I think. We also tried to turn the paper around and make it feel like a tabloid. I don't mean tabloid like the National Inquirer. But make it have that energetic and exciting feel that a tabloid can have when it's done well.

Biagi: The competition was?

Katz: The Baltimore Sun, and that was a pretty gray, old mother. The philosophy was very much the same as it is here—although this is a far more successful paper—to out-local the competition. The Baltimore Sun would send teams around the world to write about hunger in Kenya and the Middle East and all those Third World places like India. We would find out about it, and on the same day the Sun would begin a ponderous series on hunger in the Third World, we would start a series about hunger in Baltimore. We did lots of tricks like that, trying to show people that we were the paper that cared about the city and the region. I mean, the trouble was, we just had no resources, but we did unbelievably with the resources we had. It was a very tight group.

Biagi: Were you satisfied with what you did there?

Katz: Oh, I think everybody who worked there learned a lot about how much they could do and how far they could reach, far beyond what they thought they could do. The highs were the highest, and the lows were the lowest of any place I've ever been. I still keep in contact with many of the Baltimore people. Someone called me yesterday. There's not a week goes by when I don't hear from somebody. The building has been torn down now, and we worked under god-awful conditions, but I am convinced that if I went back, stood in front of the site, and said, "Come back, all of you, and work under the same conditions at the same pay," I'd get everybody back again, or most of them. It was a very special place, very talented people, all of whom have gone on to much better jobs, except for the few that had some drinking or other problem. It was a place where the talent was extraordinary.

Biagi: While we're on that subject of salary, do you remember, going back, your editorial salaries, just a couple of them, at the time?

Katz: Yes, sure.

Biagi: We're trying to compare salaries, also.

Katz: Let's see. I think at Newsday I made around $42,000 as Sunday projects editor. Maybe it was $38,000 to $42,000, in there somewhere. At the News American I started at $45,000 and ended at $60,000. When I went to Gannett, I started at $60,000, but I didn't stay long enough to get much beyond $64,000. I started here in '80, and I've more than doubled that.

Biagi: What about Baltimore, since you said the conditions weren't so great?

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Katz: I started at $45,000 at Baltimore and ended at $60,000. And here I started at $80,000 and thought I had died and gone to heaven.

Biagi: Sure. Had you? [Laughter.]

Katz: I had. That was more money than I ever anticipated making in my life.

Biagi: When you decided to leave Baltimore, why did you decide to leave?

Katz: I had no choice. The paper folded.

Biagi: What particular day? Do you remember the day?

Katz: I think it was May twenty-sixth, something like that, that last weekend in May.

Biagi: What year?

Katz: '86. Memorial Day weekend, so it was right after that, which was almost three years to the day since I arrived. I did have a choice. I could have stayed in Baltimore and worked for Johns Hopkins, or I could have taken one of the many jobs that were offered to me. I narrowed it. Early on, Gannett, of course, had contacted me, and they were very smart. They said, "Don't talk to anybody but call us before you accept anything."

I had narrowed it down to Los Angeles Times, Gannett, or Minneapolis. The editor in Minneapolis was the person who had hired me at Newsday, Joel Kramer. Minneapolis seemed awfully cold, although it was a wonderful place, and I truly respect Joel. The Los Angeles Times was definitely an option, but they wanted me to step back. They want everybody to step back when they go there, you know.

Biagi: Really?

Katz: Yes. That's what you do. You're number one at your paper, which is a little smaller, and go to Los Angeles Times, and you take three steps back, and then you'd have to work your way back up again. A lot of people don't make it. It's kind of sad. I accepted the job at the Los Angeles Times, but changed my mind.

Biagi: What job was it?

Katz: It was a city editor, assistant city editor, in Orange County. I thought about it and said, "I worked too hard in Baltimore to go back," because at the end I was the editor and the managing editor. I spent half a day in one office, half a day in the other. The editor left in March. We didn't close till June. I had three months being both. We worked our tails off. I can't tell you what it was like to work there at the end. You had to keep people functioning, knowing that the ship was either being sold or sinking. These were amazing people. They gave you 10,000 percent. But if anybody ever turned up in the office in a tie, oh, my god, you know, everybody said, "Oh, shit, he's looking for a job. He's having an interview today." I was allegedly seen at the Philadelphia Inquirer. I had never been there! There were always spottings of me. It was that kind of thing. People were trying to save themselves, but they were also trying to give it their all.

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When the paper folded, I had 111 people to find jobs for, and I knew I had a job somewhere. I didn't have to worry about it. In fact, the day the paper folded, I was late to work because I was taking a pee test for the Times, so I—

Biagi: A pee test meaning—

Katz: A drug test for the Times, so I was late for work. By the time I got to work, there were all these suits from New York there saying, "The paper's folding in five minutes."

Anyway, I knew I had a job. I knew I didn't have to worry, but there were a lot of people who did, I thought. For some reason, Hearst decided that people who were electricians had the same opportunities as people who were journalists, which was ridiculous, because electricians can get a job in all kinds of companies, but journalists can't. Although literally dozens of newspapers called and came, they wouldn't let them in the paper, and they told everybody to leave right away. They said, "The paper's closed. Take your things and go now. You can't come back." Only two of us were allowed to stay after that, allowed back in the building at all. When I was back in the building, there were just a tremendous amount of people who were calling and coming to recruit our people, and Hearst wouldn't let them, for whatever reason. So I smuggled the list out in my bra.

Biagi: You did? [Laughter.]

Katz: A fellow named Ralph Vigoda, who was the city editor, set up an office across the street. He got the city to give office space across the street for a job fair, and we held a job fair.

Biagi: Why did you feel like you had to put the list in your bra?

Katz: Because my publisher had told me that I couldn't do this, and I felt that I had to get this list of jobs to the people.

Biagi: The list was coming from—

Katz: We were compiling the list. We were still in the newsroom. The two of us were still in the newsroom taking all these calls from people who said, "I have copy editor jobs. I have these jobs. I want to come down. I want to come down and recruit. Who have you got?" The News American was famous around the world, really. Well, around the country, anyway, and it was a time when there were jobs in the country to fill. So since Hearst wouldn't let us do it there and the publisher was very clear that I couldn't participate, I basically compiled the list, smuggled it out to Ralph, and Ralph got the city to give office space for a job fair. And we did just that.

Biagi: This is Ralph—

Katz: Vigoda. He is now a reporter, a great reporter and writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Ralph organized this job fair across the street, and we found jobs for a lot of our people. In fact, I would say that most of the people are doing far better today, both financially and prestige-wise, than they ever were at the News American, but there was something about the News American that would pull us all back, something about the camaraderie. We were Israel under fire. We were commandos, you know. We were fighting the great fight. And every time we would win one, which was a lot, anytime we would beat the Sun, you know, we would just feel great. Then four days later, the Sun would run the same story, and the TV would pick it up from the Sun, which would hurt a lot.

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Biagi: So you came to L.A. thinking you were going to the Los Angeles Times, or you never took that job?

Katz: No, I never took the job. I flew out here before the paper folded. It was a very weird thing. I had this realtor in Baltimore who has sort of become a friend of mine. I bought two houses from her. Everybody knew the paper was sick. Hearst had said they were putting it up for sale, but unlike the New York Daily News, we knew nobody would buy it. It was not a paper that anybody would buy. So we all knew it was going down the tubes. I really knew, because I had read a memo upside down on the publisher's desk in March that they were likely to close it. Remember those skills you learn when you're on the bank, when you're an intern all those years back. I can still read upside down. So I knew. I just couldn't tell anybody.

But in May I had been talking to my realtor, because I had bought, with my brother, a second house in Baltimore, and she asked me where I'd like to go. I said, "I've always wanted to work at the Los Angeles Times, but I don't know anybody in California." And she said, "Why don't you call my brother?" I said, "Who's your brother?" And she said, "The foreign editor of the Los Angeles Times."

So I called him, and within minutes I was speaking to the metro editor of the Los Angeles Times, and within a week I was out here. They put me in a car and traipsed me around to all their different bureaus and downtown, and offered me a job. But as part of the hiring process, same as we do here, you had to take a drug test. I was taking the drug test when the paper folded. That's what really set me to thinking what I really wanted to do. Did I really want to step back? Did I really want to fly right away to California and leave all these people in a lurch? I mean, not that I'm one of the great philanthropists of the world, but I felt a tremendous obligation to my staff. They had worked their butts off for me for years, under the most hellacious conditions. Did I really want to just leave them in the lurch and fly out to California? But it was pretty tempting. And did I, after all that hard work myself as a managing editor, want to step back to being assistant city editor? When I thought about it, even for so great a place, a truly great paper, when I thought about it, the answer was, no, I didn't want to do that. I felt I had earned more, and I wasn't going to step back.

Biagi: So this job came?

Katz: So Gannett—remember Gannett was still smart people, waiting in the wings. So they invited me for dinner, and I went down to Washington to have dinner with Mary Kay Blake and Phil Curry, two terrific people who work for Gannett. Mary Kay is their recruiter, very smart. They invited some other people who I don't remember, editors that they had. My thought was, maybe I could sluff off a few of my staff to them, and basically I ended up accepting a job with them that night. I was just so tired and beaten down, I would have accepted anything. I was supposed to be a general news executive. In other words, they had no idea what they were going to do with me.

Biagi: In D.C.?

Katz: In D.C. But instead, I went to work with Bob Ritter in San Bernardino. So I got to California after all.

Biagi: We'll stop there.

Katz: Okay.

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