Media - Capitol Inquiry in the News

City Talk: The key players of Washington's influential and controversial weeklypaper look back on its legacy - Page 5

Jack Shafer was named editor in July 1985. In four years, the paper had grown. Circulation was expanding, the number of advertisers was increasing, and the paper was regularly printing 40-page issues. But City Paper was still losing money. In January 1988, founders Smith and Hirsch sold their remaining 20 percent stake in Washington City Paper to the owners of the Chicago Reader.

Jack Shafer, editor, 1985 to 1995: I had huge ambitions for the paper from the time I went there. I wanted it to be a great newspaper. I don't think I ever accomplished that. I did everything in my power to scream, yell, harass, demand, send back for rewrite, make people stay up late, work hard on the weekend, rewrite again and sort of beat great copy out of some of them. "All these trees died to serve our work, so now let's really do it good, let's do it right." I was really lucky to have talented people to demand that from.

Darrow Montgomery, staff photographer, 1986 to present: Local government has become sort of more professional, more accountable -- so not as fun. Marion Barry was fascinating when he was mayor, and there was all this excitement around what he was up to. He was always a continual thread. Subsequent mayors have sort of made things boring. They don't have the charisma. There is no one who can fill a room the way that man can.

Jack Schafer: I think Marion Barry deserves more credit for the establishment of City Paper than I do or Russ Smith does, because his tenure in government gave us lots and lots of good stories.

Ken Cummins: I dubbed Barry "Mayor for Life" in a [Loose Lips] column in February '86. next >>

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