Q: What do you think it was about that newsroom and about those people that so inoculated you with printer’s ink that made you want to go into that business?
TJ: They loved their work. Each day was a new day. Something new and different was happening every day. They had been and around it for a long time. Most cases, and some cases, crusty news people and after Sam Glassman came, Harley Bowers....and actually Harley inherited me from Sam. I was working on the desk there with a young guy named Ben Boswarmer, who was later named Lee Boswarmer, who went on to heights including editing the Atlanta magazine and much more. They also took a lot of time. Sam Glassman taught me how to hunt and peck type with a real typewriter. He taught me how to do the official scorebooks for both the Macon Peaches owned by the Milwaukee Braves and in the summer to get a summer job with the little league as covering the little league teams and being the official scorekeeper. I was paid extra when I was the official score keeper. I got $7.50 extra for being the scorekeeper. It was an incredible opportunity. It also taught me something then that has been with me my whole life. Sam Glassman said, "Tommy, the most important thing I can teach you is to get it right." Three words. Get it right. Whether I was editor of the Dallas newspaper and the publisher of the Dallas paper or the president of the L.A. Times or publisher of the L.A. Times or at CNN...I've said it to so many of my reporters and editors that our fundamental need is to get the story right.
Q: You had time somehow at Lanier High to also edit the high school paper. How did you get into that?
TJ: Yes. After my earliest experiences at the Macon newsroom, it was a natural to want to be involved with the then Lanier High Point Leader. It was a natural. I had been taught so much in the newsroom at the Macon Telegraph by writing headlines, about editing copy...the importance of the fundamentals that the Associated Press or the Macon paper used as their style at the time. The importance of the who, what, where, when, why and on...just straight news reporting, that in many ways I was very well prepared to edit that high school newspaper. It won all kind of awards. I also found many other students who loved doing it as well.
Q: You became involved at the state level with the Georgia Scholastic Press Association as an officer there?
Q: You had such a crowd around you there at the Macon Telegraph, I wonder if you met other people around the state of Georgia at that time?
TJ: I did. Frequently I was able to go out covering other sports teams either riding the bus with the Lanier players and football, basketball and baseball, and coming back, or in the summers they had me start working more for the news desk originally writing obituaries, but eventually doing general assignments. There was a state news editor named George Landry. I frequently went with George on assignments to cover different events as his gofer. I met politicians around, I met different people. That was the other part of journalism, to me. The fascinating people you meet, that you interview, the access that it gives you. I thought a lot about that, whether I was interviewing some judge in Macon or the mayor in Macon like Ronnie Thompson, but also later, when I had a chance to sit down with Mikhail Gorbachev or Boris Yeltsin or the then head of the Peoples Republic of China. You know, it's the ability to pull information out and get to know people. I've found that no matter where you travel, the best question that you can ask another person, particularly if you've never met them, and this is even true when I've sat down by people at the White House. I took it a long time to figure it out, but the best question that you can ask, that I learned very early at Macon: Tom, tell me about yourself.
Q: Uh-huh. Everybody's able to talk about themselves, that is for sure.
TJ: But not, “what do you do?” Tom, tell me about yourself. I can assure in 99% of the cases you can get people to start talking.
Q: That's great. So a lot of those early people were influential on you.
TJ: They were THE most influential on me.
Q: I guess none more so than Mr. Peyton Anderson.
TJ: None more than Peyton Anderson.
Q: Tell me about your acquaintance with him. How you came to know him and what role he grew to in your life.
TJ: Well, another University of Georgia graduate who wore his Phi Beta Kappa key with pride was Bill Ott. Bill was the managing editor and then he became the editor of the Macon paper. Bill took a lot of interest in sort of watching me. I didn't report directly to him. I was reporting to Sam Glassman, to Harley Bower then, to the news desk and then to Jim Chapman, the managing editor, but at some point, Bill just noticed that I had promise, that I had potential. He also knew that, I don’t want to say I had less than zero money, but that I needed to work, to have an income in high school and in college. I particularly needed to work. He introduced me to Peyton. Peyton was the person...he reported to Peyton. The editor to the paper reported to the publisher. I am convinced that it was Bill Ott that really influenced Peyton to take the type of interest in me that he did. There came a time they asked me what my plans were about college. As I recall, I said, "I hope to go to college." I wanted to go to college. I really needed, most of all, to continue to work. At some point I was called over into Peyton Anderson's publisher's office on Cherry Street then in downtown Macon. He said to me that if I could be admitted in to the University of Georgia, that they would pay my way, provided that I continue to work, and I needed to work. That led to a lot of commuting between Athens and Macon during my college years. Not everyday, but I tried to get enough hours so I could get a 40 hour week in. Most weekends...I didn't always make them, but the weekend was when they needed me the most. That was also the time I had the ability to get away from campus. Sometimes I would go down on Thursdays. Peyton Anderson became a devoted champion of mine. I really tried to in every way that I can, remember what it was like for a person of means, a person of resources to be able to reach out to a person who has no resources.
Q: He followed you all the way through, did he not?
TJ: He did.