Partial Transcript: When you first started working at the paper, how many of you worked here?
Segment Synopsis: Harris gives an overview of the newspaper and how it has changed since he became editor.
Keywords: Bowling Green, Kentucky; Courier Journal; Park City Daily News; Political endorsement; Warren County
Subjects: Advertising, Newspaper Editorials Newspaper employees Newspaper--Circulation
Partial Transcript: Do you think that you have any problems, or editorial problems?
Segment Synopsis: Harris discusses the newspaper's editorial and reporting policies. Harris also talks about the most memorable report that he did which was about a Western Kentucky University student and professor who were charged with murder.
Keywords: Bowling Green, Kentucky; Murder; Park City Daily News; Warren County; Western Kentucky University
Subjects: Editorials Newspaper editors--United States Newspaper employees Newspaper reporting
Partial Transcript: I guess you belong to the Kentucky Press Association?
Segment Synopsis: Harris discusses the Kentucky Press Association and Kentucky newspapers.
Keywords: Bowling Green, Kentucky; Kentucky Press Association; KPA; Park City Daily News; Warren County
Subjects: Journalism--Societies, etc
Title: Interview with Ray GainesIdentifier: 1980oh190 Date: 1980-05-22 Interviewer: William Berge Project: Kentucky Newspaper Editors Project
The following is an unrehearsed taped interview with Mr. Ray Gaines, editor ofthe Park City Daily News. Mr....uh... The interview was conducted by William Berge, for the Oral History Center at Eastern Kentucky University. The interview was conducted in Mr. Gaines's office in Bowling Green, Kentucky, on May 22, 1980, at 9:30 a.m. Bowling Green is the county seat of Warren County.
Berge: I want to thank you for letting me come by here today, I know, as I saidbefore, I know you're busy. If you don't mind, let's start off by you telling me your name and when you were born and where and that type thing.
Gaines: My name is Ray Gaines.
Gaines: Correct. I was born March 27, 1919, in Bowling Green.
Berge: Well you haven't gone very far then, you've been right here. Huh?1:00
Gaines: Well, I've gone far, but I came back.
Berge: Uh-huh. Where'd you go to school, Mr. Gaines?
Gaines: University of Alabama.
Gaines: And Western.
Berge: And Western. And, where'd you go...where'd you...did you go to thepublic schools in Bowling Green?
Gaines: I went to...uh...the training school that they had at Western.
Berge: Oh, at Western. All...all the way through, did you go from beginning toend in the training school?
Gaines: Year it opened, I think.
Berge: [Laughing] What was your father's name?
Gaines: Seriously. That's the year they opened the new building.
Berge: The year they opened the new building.
Berge: My...uh...oldest son started at the training school at Eastern the yearthey opened the building they have now. Uh... what was your father's name?
Gaines: C.M. Gaines.
Berge: C.M. And your mother?
Gaines: Elizabeth Brown Gaines.
Berge: Brown. Uh... Were they natives of this area, too?
Gaines: Yes, they both were.2:00
Berge: Uh-huh. When you finished high school, what year was that?
Berge: And, then...did you go to college right then?
Berge: Did you start at Bowling Green and go to Alabama or did you start at Alabama?
Gaines: I started Western and then went to the University of Alabama.
Berge: Why did you...why did you...uh...transfer down there? Do you remember?
Gaines: Well, my brother went there, that was...uh...one thing. And, at thetime they had one of the better journalism programs in the south.
Berge: Oh. Hm-hum. Do they still?
Gaines: I'm not sure that they do, no.
Berge: What...Mr. Gaines, uh...when did you...
Gaines: Western has a rather good one now.
Berge: I know they do. I know they do. And, very good in photographic, too, Ithink, aren't they?
Gaines: I think they are. Yeah.
Berge: I know I've been working mostly in western Kentucky this last month, andI've talked with a lot of people who have...uh...you know, graduates of Bowling, 3:00you know, Western working for them and they're very pleased with them. When...uh...when did you first...or...when were you first interested in the newspaper business?
Gaines: Well, I grew up in it.
Berge: Uh-huh. Your father was in the business?
Berge: Uh...and...did...did you always know that you'd end up going in it ordid you ever think about doing anything else?
Gaines: Well, yes, as a child I thought about some other things...
Gaines: ...really after I was old enough to know what I....began to know what Iwanted to do, I thought this was it.
Berge: Did you...uh...did you work around the paper when you were a boy?
Gaines: Yes, I did.
Berge: Uh-huh. It's amazing the number of people who are in this business whoseparents were in the business? I think more children follow their father in this business than they do almost any other business. Do you think that's true? 4:00
Gaines: I don't know. I think it's going to be less true from now on becauseall the newspapers are being bought up by chains.
Berge: Hm-hum. Yeah, that'll be less and less...
Gaines: I would think so.
Berge: ...the case. Uh-huh. The...uh... Would you mind telling me...uh...alittle bit about the history of this paper? It's a very old paper, isn't it?
Gaines: Yes. We...uh...trace our origin back over a hundred years by a rathercircuitous route. Uh... This paper was the...founded by my grandfather actually. But, we trace it back farther through some mergers...
Berge: When did your grandfather start the... his part of the paper?
Gaines: Gosh, I'll have to get that date for you.5:00
Berge: Do you remember the name of it when he first started it?
Gaines: Yeah...it's the Park City Daily News, I believe?
Berge: And before that it was the Park City Daily Times. And, then... the ParkCity Weekly Times before that, I guess?
Berge: Wonder how...
Gaines: My grandfather had several papers. Weeklies and...
Berge: Hm-hum. Wonder why they...it ever had the name Park City. What's thesignificance of that?
Gaines: Well, that was the nickname given Bowling Green.
Berge: Because of...
Gaines: Uh... Henry Watterson, who made a speech dedicating the park up here inthe center of town.
Berge: Oh, I see.
Gaines: He made a very flowery speech in which he referred to Bowling Green asthe Park City, and it's a nickname that has survived some...somewhat. It's the 6:00Park City Daily News. There's a Park City Hotel. A Park City Lumber Company. That sort of thing.
Berge: I know I was surprised when I first saw it. I, you know, I was thinkingof Park City, you know, up...up the road.
Gaines: Right. Very confusing.
Berge: It is. Uh...
Gaines: We're trying to get away from it actually, but it's hard to do. [Laughing]
Berge: Well, people get used to something, don't they?
Gaines: Right. Right.
Berge: Tell me this, when you...uh...left Alabama finally, uh...did you comeright back here to work?
Gaines: Yes. I came back here to work and about that time the...World War IIcame along. I went in the Navy, and after four years in the Navy I came back here.
Berge: Mr. Gaines, when you were in the Navy where were you stationed?7:00
Gaines: Well, mostly in the Pacific.
Gaines: But, uh...some in the Atlantic, too.
Berge: You were on ships then?
Gaines: Well, part of the time.
Berge: What type of ships were you on?
Gaines: APAs and AKAs mostly.
Berge: Did you like your Navy experience or not?
Gaines: Well, uh...you know like it was...uh... a good branch of the service tobe in.
Berge: Uh-huh. If you had to be in.
Gaines: Everybody had to be in almost.
Berge: Yeah. So, what...when you came back to the paper...when did you comeback? '46... '46...or?
Gaines: Yeah, about '46. Early '46.
Berge: And, what where... What kind of jobs did you have when you come back?What did you do at the paper?
Gaines: Oh, I was a reporter. First job I ever had down here I guess was a8:00printer's devil.
Berge: Oh, yeah. Those... People coming in to this business now don't know whatit was like, do they?
Gaines: No, that's right.
Berge: Do you...uh...I...I know there was some tremendous advantages to thechanges in print. And, you've seen them. Almost a revolution in the newspaper business since you been it, haven't you?
Berge: There was something about those days though. The people who worked inthe papers in those days, they sort of romanticize it some. Do you do that? Or, do you just think of the hard work?
Gaines: I'll take it... how much better we are...off we are now.
Berge: That's true. I know a number of people like yourself, who've been in thebusiness a long time, tell me about the...oh, the printers who used to just sort of come in and stay awhile and go on. They were a different breed of people, weren't they?
Berge: They were very...uh... remarkable people in some ways.
Gaines: Somebody once asked my father what kind of a staff he had. He said well9:00I have three. One coming, one going, and one working.
Berge: [Laughing] When you first started working at the paper, how many of youworked here?
Gaines: Oh... I don't know...that's...that I can answer that.
Berge: Say in the '40s. Approximately how many employees did you have?
Gaines: Oh, I imagine thirty-five or forty.
Berge: And, how many do you have now?
Gaines: Around eighty-five.
Berge: So more than double the staff. What's the circulation of the paper now?
Gaines: Twenty-two thousand on Sunday and nineteen daily.
Berge: Oh, that's a big circulation. What was the circulation back in the '40s?You remember?
Gaines: Yes, I can remember is when it was about five thousand.
Berge: Since you've been working here?10:00
Gaines: About when I came back.
Berge: When did you...uh...get to have editorial jobs?
Gaines: Oh, uh... when I was in college I use to work here in the summers.
Berge: Uh-huh. And...uh...how...when did your father quit working at the paper?
Gaines: Well, he died in 1947.
Berge: And he worked right to...he worked till then?
Berge: And...uh...when did you become editor?
Gaines: When he died.
Berge: Oh, so you've been editor all those years? That's a long time to beeditor of a paper.
Gaines: I've had the title any how.
Berge: That's a long time to be editor of a paper. Uh...tell me this,uh...when...uh...does...does your circulation now remain pretty...pretty...just pretty stable or does it...?
Gaines: It's...it's growing.
Berge: It's growing.
Gaines: Going up.
Berge: This community is growing though incredibly, isn't it.11:00
Berge: It really is.
Gaines: Well, it's growing.
Berge: When...uh...where does your paper sell besides Warren County?
Gaines: In the surrounding counties.
Berge: Like Butler and counties like that?
Gaines: Those that are adjacent to us.
Berge: Are they counter sales or are they mail...in the adjoining counties?
Gaines: No, they're mostly in the...uh...towns...and they carry...uh...carriers...
Berge: Oh...oh...route carriers.
Berge: What paper...what other daily papers come into Bowling Green besides yours?
Gaines: Courier-Journal is really the only one now.
Berge: Uh-huh. So they...in addition...Except for your paper, that's probablythe biggest selling daily in, uh...in, uh...in Warren County?
Gaines: Yes, it is. The Nashville Tennessean and Banner used to come in here12:00pretty big. But, they...now only have some newsstands.
Berge: Do you think ...uh...many people locally are... who've been subscribersof the Courier are dropping it since the Courier's changed in the last couple of years?
Gaines: I think some of them are.
Berge: I think they are in Richmond.
Gaines: I know they are.
Berge: Hm. In Richmond, in fact, uh...I'd say that there are more people buyingLexington papers than there are buying the Courier now. And, that...that did not used to be true.
Gaines: Of course, the Lexington paper has gotten strong, I tell you. Don't you think?
Berge: Oh, yes sir. Since the... those people have owned it.
Berge: Yeah. Um-hum. Have...uh... Is your paper still locally owned?
Gaines: Yes, it is.
Berge: Uh-huh. I bet you get a lot [laughing] have a lot of chains after you?Aren't they?
Gaines: That's true.
Berge: They're going to own all of them someday. Aren't they? They're justgoing to gobble them up. 13:00
Gaines: Looks like it's going that way.
Berge: Would you mind...I ask everybody this. Would you mind telling me whatyou think are the disadvantages of chains...of people selling their papers to chains. I'm not talking about for the individual himself but for the paper itself. What happens to a paper after it becomes a chain paper that you don't like?
Gaines: Well, I think...uh...there is advan...some advantage to localownership. Uh...There should be a closer contact with your community. More aware of what its needs are.
Berge: And it's a better reflection of the community generally in...community needs.
Gaines: I would guess so. Although, a lot of these chains certainly have a14:00large degree of local management, so...
Berge: I...I've noticed that's been somewhat uneven with the...with people I'vetalked with who work for chains. In some places, the...most of the...the editorial policy is actually set in that little paper...right there. But, sometimes it isn't.
Gaines: Yeah. I would think most...most of the times it is.
Gaines: I don't know.
Berge: Is Bowling Green primarily a Democratic or Republican town...I mean isWarren County primarily Democratic or Republican?
Gaines: It's a Democratic...uh...county. The registration is overwhelminglyDemocratic. Sometimes we vote Republican...
Berge: Yeah, I noticed that.
Gaines: ...in a national election.
Berge: Uh-huh. But it is for all intents and purposes a Democratic county. Doesthis paper...uh...uh...endorse political candidates?
Gaines: Yes. Sometimes.
Berge: Uh... Are you more apt to do it on a state, local or...uh...national election?15:00
Gaines: Well, we do it sometimes on any or all of them.
Berge: Um-hum. And yet...in other words you don't make any distinction there?OK. Um...the...uh...how large is the paper generally? Not on Sunday, but say during...during the week? How many pages does your paper generally run on the average?
Gaines: You're talking about paper...pages that we produce. You know, thesenewspapers are getting so many inserts.
Berge: Yeah, I know. I'm...I'm...I guess I'm really not talking about theinserts. I'm just talking about what you produce.
Gaines: I haven't seen a recent figure on that. I think that must be runningaround...uh...I guess twenty-six pages a day. 16:00
Berge: And considerably larger on Sunday, I guess?
Gaines: Yes. Uh-huh.
Berge: And, uh, is your paper bigger say Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridaysthan it is say early in the week. That kind of a...
Gaines: Wednesday is our biggest day next to Sunday.
Berge: Um-hum. Um-hum. What... In a paper like this what percentage ofadvertising do you try to hold?
Gaines: Around sixty-five percent.
Berge: Uh-huh. Are you able to do it?
Gaines: Pretty close.
Berge: That's very good for a daily, isn't it, to be able to maintain sixty-five percent?
Gaines: Well, lot of them do it. I think.
Berge: Uh-huh. You have...uh...There's a lot of businesses in Bowling Green, soBowling Green's probably a pretty good advertising town anyway? Isn't it.
Gaines:Yeah. Must be. Yeah.
Berge: Uh-huh. Is...uh... Have you all noticed any change in thissince...oh... the threat of times being bad or anything recent months? Is there...Has there been any...uh...noticeable change in advertising pattern on the part of people who advertise in your paper? 17:00
Gaines: Our classified advertisingis down. We have a...a rather unusual situation right now in so far as retail advertising is concerned in that...uh...a new shopping...large new shopping mall just opened here. So our retail advertising is holding up real well. We're actually...
Berge: Yeah. That's that big one out here on 231.
Gaines: Right. Actually running ahead.
Berge: Um-hum. Do you...uh... Even though you're a week...you're a daily, youare...uh...really a community newspaper. Aren't you?
Gaines: I would say so, yes.
Berge: Because of this, do you think that...uh...you have any...uh...problemsor...uh...if so, editorial problems that say a larger... [Knock on door] Because of your involvement with the community, which is more direct than it would be in 18:00a large city where you are...where...where the people you write about and sell to are more...uh...more like strangers to you than you would be...you know a lot, you know, you know the people you see on the street here in Bowling Green. Do you have...do you have...uh...some considerations that you make when you decide what news to print that you wouldn't have in a larger town?
Gaines: Uh...I think we print it, but we...perhaps with more compassion.
Berge: And a little more cautiously about what...the way...the way you word it,and this type thing?
Gaines: Yeah. I think so.
Berge: Do you print...uh...court...court records like they do on small, weekly papers?
Gaines: Uh, which records are you referring to?
Berge: Well, I'm talking about like... so and so's arrested for drunk drivingand that type.
Gaines: No, we don't...we don't use that.
Berge: Did you ever?
Gaines: Yes, we did.
Berge: Um-hum. Why did you quit? Can you recall?19:00
Gaines: Well, we got a new editor in charge of the news room, and he decidedthat we ought to change. [Both laughing]
Berge: Did you agree with him?
Gaines: Yeah, I think...I think I did.
Berge: You'd ...you'd sort of grown beyond that.
Gaines: I...think so.
Berge: Uh-huh. The...uh...on the editorial policy now, when you...when you alldecide what you're going to do editorially, how many people are in those decisions. Do you make all those decisions yourself, or do you...uh...
Gaines: No. No. This is a family newspaper. Uh... My brother and I and his sonare active in the business...so...if there's anything ...an important editorial decision, we make it in concert.
Berge: Hm-hum. Do you...uh... Where do you hire most of your people from, the20:00people you hire to work in the paper? The newspaper people. Do you hire 'em from graduates of Bowling...of...uh...Western? Or do you get them from other places as well?
Gaines: In the newsroom, they come from pretty much all over the state.
Berge: Hm-hum. Do you think that's healthy? Do you think that's a good idea to...?
Gaines: Well, frankly, I'd like to get more people with a Bowling Green background.
Gaines: We don't have too much success doing that.
Berge: Uh-huh. Have you had any...uh...people... I guess you've had peopleleave this paper and go on to other papers?
Gaines: Oh, yeah. Almost every day.
Berge: It...It...That's kind of a two-edged sword. You're...you're glad to havepeople that other people want but at the same time, I guess, you hate to lose them. Is that right? 21:00
Gaines: That's right. I think that's the fate of a newspaper this size. You'repretty much a training school.
Berge: When you...uh...were writing more yourself, what...what would you saywould be the top one or two stories you've ever handled yourself and were most interested in? Everybody has one or two that they're really proud of or excited about.
Gaines: One of the...uh...I guess, biggest stories we've had here was themurder case that...uh...involved...uh...a elderly, local couple who lived in a 22:00house that, at that time, was at the edge of town. And...uh...arrested and accused in the case were a Western student and a music professor at Western.
Berge: A lot... a lot of interest in that? Huh?
Gaines: It was a very, very good story.
Berge: Did you follow it from beginning to the end? Through the trial and everything?
Gaines: Oh, yeah.
Berge: How did it come out? Do you mind telling me?
Gaines: Uh...the student was given life sentence. I think he's still in prison.The professor was...uh...sentenced to eleven years and had it overturned on appeal. 23:00
Berge: Oh, really. Uh...how...the student got a considerablehigher...much...uh...greater sentence. Was the student the one that was most involved? Is that...
Gaines: He's the one apparently that did it.
Gaines: The professor was in the car parked outside.
Berge: How long ago was that? It seems like I remember it, but I can't rememberwhen it was.
Gaines: I would say around 1950 something.
Berge: Yeah. I knew I was a freshman when that happened. The...uh...what arethe most popular parts of your newspaper for the people. What do they really...what kind of things do you have that they really like? Do you have any special columns that are very popular?
Gaines: Well, that's a very good question. That's something we try to find24:00out. [Laughing] We paid somebody to try to find out for us not too long ago.
Berge: What did they...what did they find out anything?
Gaines: Well, they found out something. And, I hope it was useful. Ithink...uh...uh...local news is...uh...has very high readership. Letters to the editor have extremely high readership.
Berge: Do you do a lot... have a lot of letters to the editor?
Gaines: Quite a few.
Berge: Do the people like sports?
Gaines: Yes, they like sports.
Berge: This is a good sports beat, too, because you've got the college and thehigh schools and...
Gaines: Right. I think...uh...people like stories about other people.25:00
Berge: Do you do mean features in your paper?
Gaines: We're trying to do more.
Berge: Yeah, I notice that some...some papers do more than others. I think...Ifind that people like...like features. They just...
Gaines: I think they do.
Berge: Hm-hum. And, good feature writing is hard to do, isn't it?
Gaines: Yes, it is.
Berge: I like to read good features and I, of course, I've looked at 'em...justhundreds and hundreds of papers since I've been doing this so I...I get to read a lot of features. I know some weeklies, some of the larger weeklies, do a lot of feature work and...uh...those are very popular in those papers. Let's see...some of the papers. There's a paper over in London that does a lot of features and people like that. I know that...that's very popular there. The...uh...I'll hurry up so you can get rid of me here. Let's see...uh...I...I guess the big beats though are the schools and the county and local government and things of that nature. When they have local elections here, which ones 26:00generally generate the most excitement? Uh... Courthouse house elections, city elections, or school board elections?
Gaines: [Laughing] Uh...
Berge: All of them? [Laughing]
Gaines: City elections, I suppose. I suppose. But, any of 'em can. [Unclear]
Berge: At one time more than another, I guess. Sometimes... Uh...Whateverhappens to be the...the hot item? Uh...generally speaking, are the people in Warren County...uh...satisfied with the schools?
Gaines: I don't think so.
Berge: You don't? Is that generally the case? It's just sort of a generalnagging thing. Or is it more true now than it has been in the past?
Gaines: I think that it's less true now than it has been in the past, but Ithink it's still true.
Berge: Hm-hum. The...uh... Where is there generally the27:00most...uh...oh...concern on the part of the people? Do they...with the city or the county government?
Gaines: City, I think.
Berge: Uh-huh. They're a little bit closer to it? On top of it a little bitmore? Let's say you and I had been friends in...uh...back in the '40s when you were in the service and I had been stationed with you and I came to visit you and...you'd want to sort of show off your community. What would you show me when I came to Bowling Green?
Gaines: Well, of course, I'd have to show you the university.
Gaines: We've got some very nice residential districts.
Gaines: If you happen to be a history buff, we have three Civil War forts.
Berge: In Warren County?
Gaines: Yeah. One is on the Western campus as a matter of fact.28:00
Berge: Hm-hum. What was the name of it?
Gaines: I think they called that Fort Albert Sidney Johnston.
Berge: Oh, yeah. And where were the others?
Gaines: Where were they?
Gaines: Well, they were all situated on hills...uh...overlooking the river.
Gaines: One was near where our country club is, Bowling Green County Club. Oneis across the river.
Berge: So there were three. Uh... Is there much industry in Warren County?
Gaines: Quite a bit now.
Berge: Is it...is it clean industry? The kind you all want?
Gaines: Yes, I would say it is.
Berge: Uh...I guess the biggest employer in the county would be the university?Is that...is that a good guess or not?
Gaines: It might be in terms of...
Gaines: ...payroll. But, not in terms of numbers.
Berge: Oh, who is in terms of numbers?29:00
Gaines: I guess probably Holley Carburetor.
Berge: What are some other large ones?
Gaines: Well, we have...uh...Union Underwear, which still has its headquartershere. We have Cutler Hammer. [Unclear] We have FMC. Has a pretty good payroll.
Berge: Mr. Gaines, why do you think...uh...Bowling Green has been so successfulto get industry when some other comparable towns in the state haven't been? I think it's true.
Gaines: Well, I think Bowling Green is...uh...pretty well located.
Gaines: We had a...rural electric, Chamber of Commerce industrial recruitment effort.
Berge: Uh-huh. Have you been involved in those things?30:00
Gaines: I have been, not any more.
Berge: Uh-huh. And...and... But it's been generally supported by the leaders inthe community?
Gaines: I think so.
Berge: Um-hum. Uh...I guess you belong to Kentucky Press Association?
Gaines: Yes. Uh-huh.
Berge: Now, do you think that that's a valuable...uh...connection for you?[Tape paused]
Berge: You need to...uh...have me go...but let me just ask you a couple morequestions. We were talking about the KPA. What are the biggest benefits to be derived from membership in the KPA?
Gaines: Well, I think really...uh...uh...the KPA is more valuable probably toweekly newspapers than it is to the dailies. But, it's...has...it's valuable to us, too.
Berge: Gives you a little clout in Frankfort that you wouldn't have as individuals?
Gaines: That is correct. It sure does. You get to know your fellow publishers31:00across the state.
Berge: Who are some of the publishers and editors that you've known in Kentuckyin your lifetime that you been...um...you think very highly of? I know you won't remember 'em all, but just off the top of your head, who are some that stand out in your mind?
Gaines: I thought Fred Wachs was a very good man. You knew him I'm sure.
Gaines: Uh...of course, Barry Bingham. [Unclear]
Berge: Uh-huh. How about some of the weekly people. Did you have much to dowith them?
Gaines: Oh, quite a bit.
Berge: Who are...who are some of those who have been sort of impressive to you?
Gaines: Trying to think of who it is I know in London. I can't think of his name.32:00
Berge: Oh, yeah, you're thinking of...uh...Dyche.
Gaines: Yeah. Yeah. He was a good man.
Berge: Mr. Dyche had a good paper there. I guess he's very influential in thatpart of the state, too, Mr. Dyche was...you know...
Gaines: I believe he was.
Berge: ...in addition to being a good newspaper man. Uh...I...uh...I have alot of other little questions I could ask you, but I think you've told me the main things I really needed to know. And, I want to thank you for giving me this time. I know it's been an imposition, but it...really helpful for me.
Gaines: Enjoyed talking with you.
Berge: All right.
Gaines: Thank you, sir. [Tape ends at 32:54] [Notes: Fred B. Wachs,Lexington Leader and later Lexington Herald-Leader; Barry Bingham, Courier- Journal]