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City Talk: The key players of Washington's influential and controversial weeklypaper look back on its legacy - Page 7

Jonetta Rose Barras, associate editor, 1994 to 1999: I was in love with Jack Shafer as an editor. I did not want to see him go. So I wasn't a very happy camper. Then they told me this former crack addict was going to be the editor, in a city that was just getting over a crack epidemic. What kind of credibility is the paper going to have? But after a month, I really began to warm to David Carr. His ability to sense a good story, to know a good story, to work through a good story with a writer and push them to get to the heart of it and to give their all to a story, was incredible.

David Carr: I did some pretty dumb things when I got there. I think my first or second week there Jonetta had done a story about black leadership, and the headline I chose was "Black Hole: Why Isn't the Black Community Producing Leaders Worth Following?" And it was just like, whoa. It certainly brought attention to the paper, but not the kind we wanted.

Jonetta Rose Barras: David Carr, because he was an outsider, because he wasn't connected to kind of the culture of the city yet, he was willing to take risks that I am not sure other editors were willing to take ... Before he came, even under Jack Shafer, the paper was kind of seen as an alternative, in-your-face, principally white publication. What David did was take the institution to the community. He started holding staff meetings in African American communities in Ward 8 and Ward 7. We all went to Players Lounge for lunch. Then the people at Players Lounge got to meet us, and we would let people know we were going to be there so people from that community would come in to meet us, and that developed a good relationship. So people didn't see City Paper as some white publication, but as it was and what it had always been, which was a community publication.

David Carr left in 2000. Erik Wemple became editor in 2002. Chicago Reader sold its newspapers to Creative Loafing in July 2007. next >>

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