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John B. OakesJohn B. Oakes
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Part:         Session:         Page of 512

Q:

Do they send the story out, in the tradition of the Times, in sort of story capsule beforehand so that you have a rough idea of what the column will be on?

Oakes:

If they do, believe it or not, I don't even see it. I don't know. I really don't want to know. As a matter of fact, I make a policy of not reading their copy until after it has appeared in the paper. I always read it but I never read it prior to its appearance in the paper, because I don't want to be influenced or affected in any way by it. And I don't have any editorial responsibility for it, and therefore I don't edit it.

Now, this is only true in our page of these three columns: Krock, Reston, and Sulzberger. It's not true of [Russell] Baker, who came into the page under different circumstances.

This question that you asked is an important question as far as newspapers generally and the relationship between columnists and editorial page, and my answer in brief, what I was really trying to get at, I guess in a rather verbose way, was that I think if you have good, live editorials, you don't have to worry about the competition of a good, lively column. I think, if I may say so without sounding boastful, I think we have both on our editorial page.

Q:

On the days Baker doesn't sign, does one of your editorial writers write the column?

Oakes:

The only unsigned column we have is called “Topics of the Times,” which we now run only once a week. It used to run much more frequently, but with the advent of Baker and my desire to squeeze a little more space for letters on the page, I had to reduce “Topics” to only one day a week. That is a contributed column, written occasionally by one of the



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