JESSE EARLE BOWDEN
Jesse Earle Bowden, a small-town boy from Altha, Florida, parlayed his career as editor of
The Pensacola News Journal into a wide-ranging life as an artist, writer, and civic leader.
Since 1965, Bowden has supplemented the editorial page with his cartoons and
caricatures. His artwork also illustrates the nine books he has written, including a novel
Look and Tremble, A Novel of West Florida; a memoir, Always The Rivers Flow; a textbook
for high-school journalism teachers, and a number of books concerning Pensacola history.
As an editor and community leader, Mr. Bowden played a pivotal role in the establishment
of the University of West Florida, Pensacola Historical Society, and the creation of Gulf
Islands National Seashore. He has won scores of awards for his writing, art and his
contributions to the community.
Mr. Bowden talks about his early interest in journalism and his progression through the
ranks of newspaper jobs. He reflects at length on the lessons learned during his career by
blending cartooning and writing. He also shares his perspective on being bought out by
Gannett Newspaper Corporation and how USA Today and the decline of the
independently-owned newspaper depict broad trends in the newspaper profession. Mr.
Bowden speaks plainly on the challenges and goals he faced upon becoming editor in
Pensacola, and comments specifically on his editorial stances on the civil rights initiatives
of the 1950s and 1960s. He also muses on how both reporters and newspaper audiences
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have evolved over his long career, Mr. Bowden concludes his interview by discussing his
involvement as a civic leader and how that is important both philosophically and personally
Julian Pleasants interviewed Jesse Earle Bowden on May 20, 2000 in Pensacola,
P: Talk a little bit about the early interest you had in journalism and newspapers.
When did you first realize you wanted to be in the newspaper business?
B: When I was a youngster, twelve, thirteen, fourteen years old, I began to try to write
stories in my notebooks. My family did not really have any background toward writing
journalism, although my mother was encouraging. She read a lot of gothic novels, and
she always wanted to write, she said. I was imbued with a lot of imagination, taken from
movies and stories I read, and I began to try to write. I also wanted to be an artist at the
same time.... So, I had all these interests of wanting to write and illustrate all through
my childhood. Then, when I reached early high school, we developed a school
newspaper, the first one in the history of Altha High School. It was a little
mimeographed sheet that I created. I wrote it on my old upright Underwood typewriter
that my dad had. I began to work for the county weekly in Blountstown, I would see my
stories in print. I just slowly went into that, wanting to write, enjoyed writing. Really, my
ambition was to write books, even at that early age, but I found the smell of the ink on
the newsprint at an early age and was able to be the editor of a small weekly
newspaper called Altha Times in the late 1940s.... I was seventeen years old.
So, I went from there. I began to be a correspondent for the Florida Times Union in
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Jacksonville.... He [the sports editor] paid me $50 a month to phone in or mail in the
sports events in the panhandle. I did the same thing for the Panama City News Herald
at that time. So, I had a little business going by the time I started to go off to college that
really whetted my interest in writing.... I... enrolled in Tallahassee at the campus of the
University of Florida at Florida State College for Women, at that time . After the
war, they sent 500 male students to Tallahassee because of the overflow in Gainesville
[and] I decided to study art and journalism....
I wanted to write, so I drifted over into journalism, made that my major, became
sports editor of the Florida Flambeau, the student newspaper. I found out that I could
draw my own cartoons and write, too, so I began to draw a sports cartoon and write a
column on the Flambeau. I have been doing that sort of thing throughout my career.
P: Let me ask about the journalism program. What did they emphasize? What kind of
training did you get at FSU?
B: It was a small department, and one of my favorite professors was a gentleman
named Earl Vance. He... was a wonderful teacher; he encouraged us to get a liberal
arts education, which is a noble argument, the technical versus the liberal arts. He said,
get yourself a good education; study history and economics and language, and let the
technical aspect of journalism fall into its place. So, I took that as a guide in those early
years, and I did.... It taught me that, really, I needed a strong education. It is a
philosophy I have used throughout my career. I teach writing at the University of West
Florida, and I tell these [students] in communication arts now, get yourself a good
strong liberal arts education; take the writing courses, learn to write, but all the other
technical aspects of journalism can be learned on the job because on-the-job training is
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really what you need.
P: Is it better to learn on the job?
B: I think it probably is, because what I have found in journalism in my experience at
Florida State. We had a course in the history of journalism, which was okay but it was
a textbook course; we had courses in headline writing and copyediting, which is kind of
a routine thing you learn on the job because each newspaper is different. I could have
spent more time in other areas of political science, learning American government,
economics, maybe some advanced English courses to strengthen myself in the
language where I was learning little technical things.... You have to know how to use the
language, how to write a good, sharp, clear story. That is the most important thing that
you can learn. But you really ought to have history, economics, language, because, as
a newspaper person, you are going to have to deal with everything, from the high-and-
mighty and the celebrity to the technical, the scientist, the police beat, the courthouse
and city hall. If you do not know the framework of government, if you do not know how
American business operates, if you do not know how education works, then you are
going to be lost. So, it begins with that liberal arts base.
P: How about the Flambeau? What was it like during this period of time? Was it
controlled to a large degree by the administration?
B: It was up to a point.... They operated semi-independent of the administration, up to
a point, because at that particular time, we did not have any really controversial issues
that had caused the student rebellion [in the 1960s]. I will share with you an experience
we had in regard to that. Earl Dobert... was the editor, and he was an aggressive young
idealist. He ran into difficulty with President Doak Campbell over an issue that would
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sound awfully simple today. One of our associate editors discovered that, in the late
1940s, some faculty [members were] teaching black children on Saturday mornings in
the black area of Tallahassee, French Town; we thought it made a good story. These
people were volunteering their time to help these black children. So, we ran a story on
page one, kind of a feature story of people doing good service. The Florida legislature
was in session, and Doak Campbell, being a university president who (like all university
presidents) was sensitive to what the legislature was saying in those days, called
Dobert in, and he told him, you are going to have to step down as editor of the
Flambeau or I am going to have you kicked out of school. Dobert, being one who
wanted to finish his degree, resigned, and I became the editor that last semester before
P: What was the issue? Why was he upset?
B: The issue was the black issue because they did not want the radical faculty out in
the early days of the civil rights movement.... [T]he Florida legislature at that time was
controlled by what we call the Porkchop Gang, a term created by Jim Clendenin, the
editor of the Tampa Tribune. He called them the Porkchop Gang, and that comes from
the fact that they were mostly North Florida rural legislators, before the days of
reapportionment, who really controlled the legislature. In those days, [the more urban]
South Florida did not have much clout in the legislature. So, all across the tier of North
Florida, the rural [lawmakers], who were avowed segregationists [and] in control. So,
you can imagine the attitude of Campbell-and he probably was overreacting to that-but
you can imagine, you got your faculty out teaching black children and, you know,
[funding might be in jeopardy]....
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P: When you started out with the Altha Times what kind of journalistic activity were
you involved in? Were you doing stories, reporting?
B: I was writing all kinds of stories for the paper, whatever came in. Sometimes, there
were even social items, death notices, a little police and sheriff's department, just
anything that came. Mostly, when I worked on the weekly, I learned how to set type by
hand.... Now, the other paper I worked on was called the County Record, in
Blountstown.... So, when I was a student at Florida State, in the summers, I would work
for him [Wallace Finley, editor]. I would do everything, clean the rollers on the press, try
to learn to use the Linotype machine-he had a Linotype-and then I would write stories.
I would even go down to the grocery store and pick up their ads and bring them back.
There was a lot of fun and excitement in that, so that helped whet my interest in it. The
world of the weekly newspaper, as you know, has changed... but in those days, you had
to put it together mechanically by hand. You could see the whole paper come together.
So, I got experience on how to write headlines, how to compose type, and how to make
P: Did you ever have any formal training as a cartoonist?
B: No. The only training I had was two or three courses at Florida State. One was
design, and one was oil painting.... I wanted to cartoon. I wanted to illustrate. That is
when I just started doing it myself. I studied all the cartoonists.... So, I was just
searching when I started doing these sports cartoons, and then, actually here
[Pensacola News Journal], I drifted into editorial cartoons.
P: Which editorial cartoonists do you admire today?
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B: There are several. [The late] Jeff McNelly [was] great.... [One of] my great heroes
of all time [was] Herb Block [Herblock]... at the Washington Post. Bill Mauldin was really
my idol. I collected all of his books. I have read everything he has ever written, and his
great cartoons. Cartoonists today are better than they ever were.
P: What makes a good editorial cartoonist?
B: It is the irony, the satire, the fact that you can crystallize an idea about an issue
into comical form that would cause the reader to react, chuckle, laugh, say oh yeah. It
can be a vicious art. Caricature, historically, has always been a terribly] powerful
weapon, even in the early centuries in France and England. [Many] caricatur[ists]...
went to jail because they lampooned the king.... The editorial [cartoon] is simply a
pictorial thirty-second thought that appears on the editorial page that does visually what
a written editorial does. I was an editor who believed in local news and local issues, and
most of my cartoons through the years have dealt with Pensacola and regional topics.
P: But the cartoon has to be recognizable to the reading public, does it not?
B: Right. Occasionally, I do national [topics], but I always thought that cartoons could
be powerful in trying to persuade people. It worked, I think, in such issues that I had
through the years as when we were trying to create Gulf Islands National Seashore. I
did, maybe, 100 cartoons ripping the people who opposed it and trying to put across the
idea. So, a cartoon has to have punch, irony, satire, humor, ridicule.
P: Would you use your cartoon to illustrate an editorial you had written?
B: Yes. It [is] always more effective to have the visual, the graphic, [published with
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the] editorial that you write. Now, we do not always do that anymore.... Editorial
cartoonists today really kind of stand alone. Most of them are kind of independent of the
P: Do you know of anybody else in journalism who writes editorials and also illustrates
B: No, and the book I wrote [Drawing From an Editor's Life] has this in it. A gentleman
by the name of Judd Hurd is editor and publisher of a national magazine called
Cartoonist Profiles.... [H]e called me and says, I understand you do your own editorial
cartoons. I said, right. He said, I have looked around, and I have never heard of that
before; would you write me an article? And I did.... It was [entitled] "An Editor as His
Own Cartoonist," and I am the only one he ever heard of who did that. It is unusual, but
cartooning was really kind of my sideline activity as an editor of a newspaper. I did it
because I enjoyed it, I thought it was helpful, but I was primarily an editor....
P: I have talked to several editorial cartoonists, and it is interesting how they work.
Some of them, like McNelly, for example, got an idea and then spent a large portion of
time trying to draw what he wants to say. Is that how you work?
B: Yes. You [strive for] an idea; you use metaphors..... Many of these younger ones
who I see just do what we call a gag cartoon. It is funny, dealing with the Internet or
dealing with [topical subjects]. It is not really issue-oriented.... Sometimes, you do just a
really make-fun thing of local people...., and you are really making fun of them, but you
are trying to make a point. It is strange. These guys who I have ridiculed and
lampooned through the years all want copies of them to hang on their wall. So, yes, that
is what you do. That has really been a very pleasing part of my career, drawing.... The
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only vehicle I could get into was newspaper work. I love the daily business of
newspaper. No two days are alike. Everything is different. You start over every day. It is
the only industry where you create a product every day, and it is always different.
P: A lot of people who are editors and publishers started in sports. Why do you think
B: I could not think of a better place for a young man to begin because what you deal
with in sports is a human drama. It is almost like you are describing a stage play. Sport
is competition.... It has all the elements of a good story, winning and losing. It gives you
an opportunity to write freely because sportswriters, even though many of them
[sportswriters] use too many adjectives and overwrite, it is a great place to start. And I
recommend it. The only problem is that sports, to me, was such a limited field.... It is a
world in itself, and when you have other interests, pretty soon you say, well, I have to
get out of this. Now, a lot of people never lose it, and they want to stay and make a
career of it. The great Red Smith.... When you read his columns, they were universal.
They had a theme to them. He was not just covering the Yankees and the Dodgers. He
was writing about the human condition more than anything else. So, they were writers
more than they were sportswriters. I reached a point where I was interested in other
things. I was interested in editorial writing, and I was sort of interested in political
science. That is when I backed out of sports, about 1958, and I went on the afternoon
Pensacola News [as] news editor....
P: Let me get a definition of your job as a news editor. Exactly what did you do?
B: I worked the wires [wire services Associated Press and United Press International],
I laid out front page, I laid out all the pages of the entire newspaper.... That was a
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tremendous challenge and quite a contrast to sports; you deal with hard news and you
have] to be fast with it. I was not writing as much, although we had reporters at the
courthouse or the police station; they would phone in stories or phone in fax on
deadline and I would take them and write the story. I found myself suddenly being able
to tighten up these stories. Unlike sports, where you had the liberty to flow, you had to
write it tight. That was a good school for me, to go from sports where you kind of have a
wild, loose, featured approach to things, more so than hard news, where you have to
tighten it up and get it on the page.
P: Would you would get a lot of late-breaking night news for the afternoon paper?
B: Right. Afternoon experience is, to me, better than the morning experience because
what you have to do [is]-the morning paper has come out, and it has all the news in it-
you have to come back by ten or eleven o'clock in the morning, and you have to get a
fresh angle to everything. Most news would be considered old. You have to go through
the morning paper and look at this lead on the county commissioner and [find] an angle
that this morning paper did not cover?... Otherwise, you are repeating what was in the
P: Plus, there had to be some new information. If there were a fire, you might now
have the names of the victims which you did not have before.
B: Right, and it is evolving. Fortunately, you get breaking news early in the morning,
crime or fire, and then you run with that as your lead story because that is what you
have. In those days, we had pretty large street sales. This is also passe. Street sales
were important to our afternoon paper because you would bring that paper out around
noon when people were going to lunch, and you have a big headline on a breaking
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story, people are going to buy it. That has all changed....
P: What was the circulation of the Pensacola papers around 1964?
B: The Journal, the morning paper, was about 65,000 daily, 80,000 on Sunday
[News Journal. The afternoon paper [News] was 30,000 to 40,000. Now, at an earlier
period, back in the 1950s, the morning paper and the evening paper had about the
same amount of circulation. It was a different time. We did not have television, none of
that. Then, you began to see the decline of the afternoon numbers. Advertisers
preferred the morning paper because they had more circulation. I fought for years to
keep the afternoon paper alive, tried everything I could to salvage it after I became
editor.... Now, by 1985, when we were forced to close out the afternoon [edition], the
circulation [had] dropped to about 12,000 or 14,000. It was not viable anymore.
P: That was true everywhere in the country, was it not?
B: Yes, it affected everybody. Afternoon papers just no longer had a purpose.
Everybody tried everything they could. What I did with the Pensacola News [was to]
turn it into a total local newspaper.... The entire paper was local news, except on the
back page [for] national [news], in total contrast with the morning Times, so I said we
are going to do that here. We tried, but people's time and recreation had changed.
Neighborhoods had changed. Television began to dominate. One of the saddest days
of my life was when I read that television is now the dominant source for news....
P: From 1964 to 1966, you were the editorial page editor for both papers. What were
your primary duties in this position?
B: I [wrote] the editorials and designed] the editorial page.... That was quite a chore. I
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had to do morning editorials and afternoon editorials.
P: You wrote all the editorials?
B: Yes. The Journal had a stack of, I think, three editorials. [For] the News, I
redesigned the page so I did not have to write quite so much. I wrote one long one and
one short one for the News.... I did that for eight months, both newspapers. You still
had all the editing chores in the old hot-type [process]. You had to pick [the] cartoon
and select your syndicated columns and lay them out and edit them, make them fit, and
then write the editorials, and I [was] still doing the cartoon, but I was a lot younger then
and having a lot of fun with it.... I found that editorial ideas come to you, playing] off the
news. I did not use much canned stuff. A lot of papers would look to editorial services,
which are frowned on totally. I looked at some of those but I said, good Lord, that has
nothing to do with Pensacola and Florida; we do not need that in our paper. So, I tried
to write them, and I tried to keep them as local as possible.
P: What is the hardest thing about writing an editorial?
B: Getting the idea. Writing it is, to me, fairly simple. When you have a problem, what
is the problem, what is the solution, what is the recommendation? But finding ideas,
and you have to go through [the] newspaper every day and pick up ideas coming out of
the county commission, city council, environmental issues, even plain neighborhood
issues, clean water, and find a new angle to that, and develop your policy. You [must]
have a policy, principles that you believe in.... If you can be persuasive toward your own
hometown, then that is the value of a newspaper editorial.... You cannot ignore certain
bigger issues that [affect public affairs]. You also write about Social Security, you write
about the military, because that affects everyone, even local[ly]. You look for military
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topics because we have a tremendous military establishment here on the Gulf Coast in
Pensacola and Fort Walton Beach....
P: Did you consider yourself, at this time, conservative or liberal?
B: I sometimes call myself a Jeffersonian. I believe in absolute individual freedom. I
believe in small government. I am pretty frugal and conservative when it comes to
spending the taxpayer's dollar. I am very liberal on human rights and civil rights. I used
to be more conservative in the sense of the Goldwater/Reagan era conservative. I was
more into that at a certain time, but I am [also] a strong environmentalist.... I believe in
family values. I believe in the American system. I believe in free enterprise. I think the
perception was when I ran the editorial pages is that I was probably more conservative
than I really was. I always stood up for the black American rights, even in the early
days. In the 1960s, the paper was pretty progressive in that. But we believed in free
enterprise, respected it....You do have to be sensitive that business is important to a
community, but so [are] the people's rights, so is the environment, so are governmental
controls that prevent overbuilding and [serve] people's interests. So you have to do a
P: Let me ask you about some specific issues and get your response. What was your
reaction to both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965?
B: I thought both of them were needed, had to be.
P: Did you get much criticism for taking those stands in the Panhandle?
B: Well, yes, a little. In this area, as conservative as it is, we did not have that kind of
turmoil that you had in Mississippi or South Alabama.... Even before Brown v. Board of
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Education [1954 desegregation case], my predecessor, Marion Gaines, was advocating
desegregation, and we carried that on. No question, we criticized Dr. [Martin Luther]
King. We thought he might be going too far, but we were not alone in that. Everybody
was saying that. You look back on it now and say the man really did a tremendous
[service] for this nation, but at that time, the idea of people protesting and walking in the
streets was a little bit foreign to us. Our paper thought protest and that sort of thing just
was not the way to go. We preferred more sitting-down and working-out [dialogue],
which was not going to happen. You need that kind of agitation from time to time to
make things happen, but I think generally, overall, we were pretty supportive of that....
The violence that occurred in Birmingham, yes, we hit that hard. Of course, anytime
children are killed at church [reference to the bombing of a Birmingham church that
killed four African-American girls], you have to [object]. We did not get much criticism
on that. We had some local marches here led by a civil rights leader, and we met
repeatedly with that group, trying to work it out. The paper was trying to be a mediator,
and we never had any real violence.... What I am saying is that we were trying to find a
middle ground to bring the blacks and whites together.... The perception of equality was
still grounded in the Old South idea, that we ought to have a separation of races....
Then, a later generation comes along and realizes that we have to have a melting pot,
that we have to come together, that we need a colorless society. I wrote an editorial
about what King said about a color-blind society. We need that. So, I guess my editorial
thrust was moderate to liberal at times and [at times] somewhat conservative. Al
Neuharth [founder, USA TODAY], the president of our company, used to say the
editorial page should never be predictable. If they know you are a right-wing newspaper
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and what you are going to say every day, you are playing to the choir. You have to be
unpredictable and be loose. Think about the issue. Let the issue determine what you
are going to say about it, as long as you keep a common thread to [basic editorial
P: Did the paper always make recommendations in political races?
B: Yes, they did during my time. As a matter of fact, they started it, really, back in the
1950s. I always advocated that very strongly.... [I]f you, as a newspaper, have a voice,
have a page devoted to opinion, and you take a position on whether to build that
parking lot over there or whether we ought to have a park over here or whether we
ought to save the bayfront or whether the sheriff is getting out of line and is a little bit
too loose with shooting criminals, if you take those positions daily, when it comes for the
time for your people living in your local precinct or local governmental unit, state or
national or whatever, they have to make a decision to pick their leader. The newspaper
ought to have the backbone to come out and say what it thinks about these candidates
and make a recommendation, not an endorsement.... Today, we say X ought to be
president, or we recommend him, tell the reader why, and move on. The next day, if he
does something after he is elected [that] we disagree with, we take him on. That
relieves you of this burden of having the allegiance connection to the political
candidate.... All you are doing is making a recommendation. Now, readers perceive that
wrongly. They think you are in bed with the candidate you are endorsing, and you do all
kinds of ways of trying to prove you are not by offering the opposition space on the
editorial page to sound off. We always did that. If it was a two-candidate race, we
recommended [one] person, and [the other was given] equal space, 400 words, and we
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[printed the response]. That helps. Then, we opened up our Letter to the Editor page to
let people talk about candidates.
P: Do you think your recommendations had much impact?
B: On certain races, they had a lot of impact. For instance, judicial races, which are
often non-political. People would run for judge in Florida, and about all they would tell
you was where they went to school and who their wife is and their basic biographical
[information].... In the large election in November, usually, you had a pretty large
selection of circuit judges running or county judge. We found that our recommendations
were [effective] a lot of times, because people do not perceive those races as being
partisan or political and they look to the newspaper [knowing we had] researched them,
and [they will want to consider our] recommendation. Now, if you get a hot sheriff's race
in this county, the newspaper might not be as influential as that because that gets
awfully partisan and bitterly brutal sometimes, and other factors carry it. That should not
deter you from taking a position, a logical sober analysis of what the person can offer in
P: From 1966 to 1969, you were editor-in-chief. How did you get that position and
why did you take the job?
B: I got that job because... Marion Gaines retired after a twenty-[six] year career....
So, one day, Mr. Ball [Braden Ball, the publisher] called me into his office and says, can
you run that department over there? I said, sir, I can try. He said, you are the new
editor; you go back over there and call them into the conference room and you tell them
that you are taking over as editor. I was thirty-four. I went back, and I got them all in the
newsroom conference room, and I told them, Braden Ball just named me editor-in-chief
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of this newspaper. All these guys I had worked with, some of them had been there
longer and they thought they might have a shot at that job one day, and there was a
little coldness there for a few hours but it [subsided], and I took over as editor. That is
how I got the job, because he was so pleased with the work I had done, first on the
news, winning some awards, and then writing editorials....
P: At this point, who owned the paper?
B: Gannett bought us in 1969, but when I became editor, John H. Perry. Perry's father
bought these papers, including the whole newspaper here, in the 1920s and put them
together in the News Journal Company in 1924.
P: What influence did John H. Perry Jr. have on the paper?
B: Very little. Now, the older Perry, John H. Perry Sr., was a Kentucky libel lawyer. It
was almost Scripps-Perry [instead of Scripps-Howard]. He [considered joining] Scripps
[but] Perry went out independently and began to buy newspapers. [He] saw a frontier in
Florida and came here and began to buy [other] smaller papers that did not have any
money, a lot of them [with] Ed Ball's [financial support]. [Perry and Ball] were close. He
died in 195. I came here in 1952, so I never knew the [senior Perry].... But John [Jr.]
lost interest, or had no interest, in the newspaper business. By 1969, he started selling
off his newspapers. [Perry owned twenty-seven newspapers in Florida.] Ours was the
first to go, to Gannett Company for $15,500,000, which sounds like very little money
today, and then all the others began to split up. Palm Beach went to Cox, and Freedom
Newspapers bought Panama City and Fort Walton Beach, and, Ocala [went to] the New
P: How did things change under Gannett, and what influence did they have on you?
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B: They had a lot of influence, of course, but they did not change much, other than
they instituted a better financial reporting system to the new corporation.... Gannett was
becoming a public company, and they owned a lot of newspapers and were buying [in]
Florida. They put in new rules in that regard. I anticipated what they might do here, and
I redesigned the paper, based on the paper TODAYAT COCOA BEACH, as it was
called then, later renamed FLORIDA TODAY. They had opened the four front sections
to all news, sports, local, living.... So, with angle bars on the press, we were able to get
the four-section newspaper, in both the morning and afternoon, by the time Gannett got
here to talk to us, and they were impressed with that. I had read everything about
Gannett and some of the things they were doing, and I was making sure we were on
the ball team. They were very good to me. They were good for [our] company, a large
corporation providing] resources for a medium-sized newspaper.... They built a new
pressroom, expanded the building, began to put in [computers to replace] the hot-type
operation in the 1970s, [with] all new equipment....
P: I am interested in what you think of USA TODAY.
B: I think that USA TODAY, now, is a solid, good-reading newspaper. I take it in my
home and read it every morning. At first, I thought it was a bit flamboyant and flashy
[with less than quality] content, not much worth beyond the headlines. For a commuter
newspaper sold in airports, it might have been fine. But it has settled into being a real
strong newspaper, as its circulation indicates. The concept of a national newspaper has
merit, [but its] problem is [a lack of] base. It has no home, other than the nation. That, to
me, lends itself to having lost something.... A lot of that was Neuharth's influence; he
was trying to be totally different from what his good friends on the Washington Post and
FNP 50 page 19
the Wall Street Journal were doing. He had an idea which first manifested in Cocoa with
TODAY, and he just took that [concept] and, with the help of a lot of people,
brainstormed an idea that they could launch a newspaper that could be sold all over
America. The technology was there with the satellite to feed out of the Washington area
[to printing sites around the country], and it worked. Now others have refined what he
started and turned it into a household word, as far as newspapers are concerned.
P: How important were innovations like graphics, the colored weather map? Did that
B: Those were very helpful in the beginning, and the pioneer was the St. Petersburg
Times. Back in the early years when television was coming on in very vivid color,
newspapers had to find ways to be more attractive. St. Petersburg Times really was a
pioneer of the early graphics in America.... [USA TODAY] did have a [large] splashy
weather map; then suddenly every newspaper in America was emulating. But I notice
[most] have gone back to smaller maps. All of that was not necessary, but it was an
effort to create a newspaper like it was a television screen, in print. I cannot fault it. I do
not totally agree with its design. As a [student] of newspaper design, there are a lot of
things I would not do, [but] they seemed to enjoy [experimentation]. But in the graphics
age with computerss, you can [create effective images], column rules and borders and
everything.... But USA TODAY, to answer your question, is, I think, a very valid and
important element to American journalism in its time.... They have colorful writing. They
have some good writers. They have helped enterprise a lot of [stories] that other
newspapers now follow, [like] writing tight short stories. I do not always like that;
sometimes you get too cryptic [and] miss [elements of the story]. You read a good
FNP 50 page 20
strong story in the Miami Herald and the Washington Post about an issue, and you
have a full understanding of it. You read USA TODAY, and you get the cream off the
top of the milk, so to speak.
P: One of the criticisms is that it is now "McNews." People do not read newspapers
very much, and this is really a lesser form of what we might consider a regular
newspaper. So, a lot of critics do not like USA TODAYbecause it is too short and too
lacking in information.
B: And that was its design, a quick read, you know, the McPaper.... But it put Al
Neuharth and Gannett on the map. Gannett had some image problems. They ran small-
town newspapers, and [USA TODAY] gave them [stature]. So, USA TODAYis a new
dimension to the printed word at a time when some of us in the back of our minds have
fear that the day is coming when the printed page is going away and it is all going to be
P: Will there be a day when you will get your newspaper on the computer and you will
not actually have a physical newspaper to handle?
B: I do not anticipate that until, maybe, another generation. I think the printed word is
going to be around a long time. We are so attuned to that, picking up books and
newspapers.... Newspapers are different today. They are going to have to be
different.... Public journalism is coming [in vogue], getting back to your community,
getting involved with your community. Get close to the readers, and ask them what they
think....I always talked about [how] we have to improve writing. Well, we should have
improved writing all along, but we were improving writing because we wanted people to
read these stories because they had television and everything was instant news,
FNP 50 page 21
radio.... You have to write your story so that they are so compelling, people have to
P: Because of your physical location, you are not in competition with the St. Pete
Times or the Orlando Sentinel.
B: No, we did not have those papers coming into our market. It was not feasible for
them to haul a newspaper that far.... We cannot even do well in Tallahassee. It is so far
away, and it is costly to get the papers there. We must look at our immediate
readership, because the advertiser knows that these are the people buy[ing] his
products, and he buys ad space from us. So, we have to serve him more than to go out
and try to get these large numbers of circulation, which are not profitable from a
standpoint of the newspaper. You just settle into your region....
P: When you took over as editor, what specific goals did you have?
B: My goal, number one, was to be the dominant newspaper of the Panhandle. We
were the only morning daily in the Panhandle at that time.... But, to try to be the
dominant and best-read and the most influential newspaper in west Florida, because
we were the largest....
P: When you took over, were there some specific problems, either financial or in
terms of circulation or the editorial policy, that you had to deal with?
B: ...I began to try to recruit a better-educated reporter. The problem I had with that
was, again, economics. I could not pay them as much as the Miami Herald. I use to hire
people out of, like, LSU [Louisiana State University], they always loved to come to
Pensacola because of the beaches. They would come to work for us, and in six
months, they were working at the Miami Herald, because the Herald in those days was
FNP 50 page 22
always looking for good people and they could hire them from us [with higher
salaries].... That is no longer as much of a factor with the paper here. It is [under]
Gannett, and we got the salaries up to be competitive.... I began to expand the sports
staff. It was small. I put in a photo department that the newsroom had never really had.
This sounds really old-fashioned, but we had one photographer and an assistant, so we
began to expand that. We did not have an art department or a graphics department,
and I brought in a graphic artist directly from Cocoa, who had helped develop
TODAY... I made a lot of revolutionary changes on this newspaper when I took over.
First of all, one of the things [was], we were identifying people with race. You know,
John Jones, Negro, arrested last night. I stopped that.... I changed the Society pages to
what I called at that time Living. I call it Life now.... We began to [respect] the civil rights
movement, the concern for blacks. We had a debutante cotillion here that was kind of a
social [event], and they always got a big spread with their daughters coming out and it
was all-white. By that time, the blacks decided they would have one, too, and they could
not get in the paper. I gave them the [same] space as the white. That caused me a little
grief among the social gentry here, but that was the right thing to do. We broke those
barriers in covering things that the paper really had never done before.
P: How did the role of women change, during the thirty years or so you were editor?
B: Tremendously.... Anyway, [when I became editor] we did not have many women in
the newsroom....They had mostly just women [working on] the social pages. There were
not any over on the other side. So, we began to change that, and I hired several people
to come in and be reporters and cover City Hall. So, that began to change. Now we
have about as many women as men in the newsroom.
FNP 50 page 23
P: What about hiring of minorities?
B: I hired, I guess, the first black reporter, a woman. I forget the year. The problem we
had and still have is you cannot keep them. There are not enough. They come here and
stay a short time, and the Tallahassee Democrat or a Knight-Ridder will grab them, or
some of the other larger papers. The News Journal now has [several] minorities. The
assistant editorial page editor is black. He is from South Carolina and is a very good
man. That is no longer a factor, but it was tough to find [qualified minorities].... Hiring
minorities is still a concern in the newspaper business. That is the reason all the
newspaper companies pump so much money into Florida A&M's journalism school.
They are trying to groom young blacks for our business, because we have to realize
that there is a black community which should be covered just like the other....
P: How have reporters changed over the same period of time?
B: Reporters have changed tremendously. I used to have some old-timers.... I had a
guy who came to work on that afternoon paper and he would write you a feature story
that would stand up for the edition. By noon, he would have it ready. He would go down
to the Coffee Cup, a favorite restaurant, find some character, develop it into something,
tie it to the day's news, and he would have a nice feature. Then he would come to the
paper and get on the phone, and he would take police stories and write them up. He
would write ten, twelve stories during one news cycle. Today, you are lucky if a reporter
writes two stories a week. You give them an assignment, and they have three weeks to
enterprise. In the old days, I had reporters who could turn out those stories in hours,
and that is still a frustration to me, why we cannot do that. Newspapers are not as
immediate as they used to be.....
FNP 50 page 24
P: Are the stories written any better?
B: No, not really. Well, yes. Say you are doing an environmental story or a story that
is a little bit investigative.... I am not talking about that. I am talking about just grabbing
a story for morning edition that would be soft, reflective of something tied to the news. I
do not see much of that anymore.... I think the system has just lent itself to giving them
more time to think it out better and make sure it is right. That is good if you have the
numbers of people to do it.....
P: Part of it has to do with lawsuits. Newspapers have to be accurate.
B: Yes, you have to double-check it. You have to check with lawyers, and you make
sure. You have to go through a series of editors if it is a sensitive story, but I am talking
about just routine stuff. A police story that might be just kind of interesting with the
angle it takes. He [a reporter] could do that in a few minutes. I do not sense we have
that anymore. I have always made a point of not criticizing the younger generation
because I think some of them are much better than anything of my time. Better-
educated. More interested, I think. So many times in the old days, we had a lot of
cynicism, and people did not have the background [but] they were good writers.....[M]ost
of these kids today are college graduates. Unfortunately, so many of them are
discovering that the newspaper way of life is not what I want. I want to go out and do
something that I can make more money out of. It is one of the real problems of the
P: How has the newspaper audience changed during your career?
B: They are more demanding.... The sophistication of the reading audience is much
higher. I think what I am saying is that, in an earlier period before television, people who
FNP 50 page 25
relied almost entirely on the local newspaper for their news were forced to take what
they got. Today, they have so many choices that they can quickly tell where they want
to have that newspaper or whether it is satisfying their needs.... Newspapers, I guess,
are the last mass-medium, and that is our only hope for them, in that television is so
fractured with cable and radio is all talk and music.... I always tell students, you know,
radio came along and scared the devil out of the newspaper business. Here suddenly,
you can hear the news instantaneously.... I mean, radio went on and had its heyday,
and the newspaper is still going. Along comes television, and suddenly they say, well,
we are not only going to hear the news but you can see it instantaneously, and that is
going to cut [us out]. Well, the radio panicked, and radio had to adapt. It did. It went to
talk. It went to music.... But the newspapers have been steady.... You still read the
crossword puzzle, the comics, the death notices, about what your local government is
doing, read a little bit of the social news pertaining to your neighborhood. You have all
that in one package.
Unfortunately, it is printed on paper.... I remember reading that Ted Turner said... the
newspaper business is the only business I know where you have to cut down a tree that
we need to keep us warm, to print the news that is old on the day it is printed. That is
true. It is cumbersome, all the way from a tree in Canada or a forest in Canada to a mill
to the News Journals off-set press, and we are grinding it out and delivering it on your
lawn. Here, you have an electronic medium that can pop [a] column [and news report]
onto the Internet right into your home and probably down the road onto your television
set. So I do not know what is going to happen there, but I do not think anything has
changed as far as journalism is concerned. Our role is to keep the public informed and,
FNP 50 page 26
in a sense, to guard democracy,... we are the watchdogs. I do not think that is going to
change.... I have seen television do more and more entertainment. It was not news....
There is nothing better than when you have a tragedy in America [and] TV ...can do a
marvelous job of covering those... events.... You cannot get better than that, but not the
day-in-day-out information that people need to guide their lives and pay their taxes....
P: How would you rate your paper compared to papers of comparable circulation, as
well as the larger newspapers in the state?
B: ... I do not see any weak papers in Florida anymore.... I think Florida is really
blessed with some great newspapers. You know, the [Miami] Herald, of course, and the
St. Pete Times. You look at all the others, the old Fort Lauderdale News and the Sun-
Sentinel. Really great newspapers. The Tampa Tribune. Then, you get into what I call
the medium-size newspapers, Tallahassee, Gainesville, maybe Ocala, all of that level.
They are all attractive newspapers....
P: How have the letters to the editor changed over this period of time?
B: Much more literate, less vitriolic, although... you still get them from all kinds of
people and you do not publish those kind....
P: Do you cut them or do you print them in full?
B: We have a word limit, like 300 or 400 words, and if it is a few words over, we still
go ahead and run them. If it is too long, we send it back and say you have to cut it
down.... If you ran half of it, the guy would complain that you cut my stuff and my main
message was in the second page. If it is just a few words over, they go ahead with it.
We have another vehicle at the newspaper I developed years ago, called Viewpoint, on
the op-ed page. If you write a column about an issue, say 500 to 700 words, and you
FNP 50 page 27
run it with your picture on it, we offer that to people who head organizations, voluntary
or even politicians... [anyone] who might disagree with our editorial position.... My view
of the editorial page is that it is a melting-pot of ideas, our voice is on the left-hand
column, but everything else on those pages is somebody else's view, either syndicated
columns, cartoons, letters to the editor, or viewpoint articles. I figured it up one time,
and we run far more words from other people, the local voices, than our words....
P: Who chooses the letters?
B: The editorial page editor.
P: Based on what criteria?
B: Based on first-come, first-serve. At a paper our size, we try to be fair to everybody.
If you write a letter and it is reasonable and it conforms with the rules we have laid out-
we do not tell you what to write-you will get in the paper. If you have a letter that libels
somebody... the newspaper is responsible, too. You have to be careful in that regard,
and you have to be sensitive to other issues. And make sure it makes a point....
P: How often did you use syndicated columnists, and how did you choose which ones
you would use?
B: We use them daily. Most syndicated columnists [write] three a week, and you pick
and choose from those and run them on regular days. You always try to get the ones
that were popular and representative of a variety of viewpoints, whether liberal or
conservative. You try to get a balance.... They recently added Molly Ivins, who writes a
humorous column out of Texas, and they added Walter Williams, a black conservative.
He writes an interesting piece, and that gives variety. I always add James Jackson
Kilpatrick, a beautiful writer. He was a true conservative but just a good writer, a
FNP 50 page 28
constitutionalist. We always had [William F.] Buckley and Ellen Goodman and various
others. Dave Broder, the best political reporter out of Washington....
P: But you chose them, and not Gannett?
B: Oh yes.... Gannett used to have a slogan, we make a business of not running
newspapers. Even though they inherited me in 1969, never one time did Gannett ever
tell me what to write, not in my entire career. I was fortunate in that regard. Editors
really have to be sensitive to what the company is, but as far as the editorial position
that the News Journaltook during my career, that was under my direction. In the latter
years after we had developed an editorial board,... composed of the publisher, who
frequently sat in or sometimes chose not to, the editorial page staff, perhaps the
managing editor; a lot of minds came to work on developing about what we would say
about issues. We would meet a couple of times a week....
P: Did you have any problems with advertiser discontent with your editorials, and
would that affect what editorials you ran, or advertisements?
B: Yes, not because of anything we did editorially, but it was some stories that we
were running.... [W]e ran a story that was developed locally about one of these
companies that will sell you a car almost by mail, and you can get it much cheaper
doing that. Here was a big spread they ran one day on the business page, and the
publisher at that time tried to encourage them not to run that story, to hold it for a day or
two, and he was absolutely right. They ran that story and did not worry about it. In a
story like that, you got, I can buy a car cheaper by this process than I can going out to
one of the lots in Car City. It stands to reason, in my view, let us get Car City's view of
this. You know, if I can buy a car cheaper than you can sell it, what do you think about
FNP 50 page 29
that? They did not get both sides. And when it came out, they [the car dealers] got real
upset, and one of them led a little boycott. It did not last long because they needed the
I think most people who understand how newspapers operate understand that the
opinion page is opinion. They say, well, I did not agree with it, but you have a right to
say it. The reason I think we did not have any problem is that we were always very
careful in an editorial not to make the grievous error of misinformation or casting people
in a bad light unnecessarily. Cast the issue in a bad light, maybe, if you need to, but not
the individual or the commercial concern or whatever.... Now, we did have a lot of
opposition for some of the things we stood for in this county, like consolidating
government. We tried to consolidate city and county [and] we just lost like crazy
because people did not want to change their form of government. I think three times
during my era as editor, we tried to [establish a] charter government, which failed each
time. And, at least three times, we advocated an appointed school superintendent,
which failed each time....
But I have not had that pressure from advertisers. The only ones I have had is when
some reporter would goof up a story so badly that it affected an advertiser. I had a guy
writing us a consumer column one time. He went out to get his car fixed, and they
messed it up. He got into a real argument with them [and returns] to the News Journal
and [criticizes] people who repair cars and just brutalizes them in a column, in kind of
an oblique way. The guy called up and he was really upset. It turned out that the
reporter would not pay his bill, and we had to fire him. So, when you take an issue like
that and make it personal in the newspaper, you can get yourself into real trouble....
FNP 50 page 30
P: Did you cover the legislature very closely?
B: In the early years of my career as editor-in-chief, I was fortunate to have the dean
of political writers in Florida, named Maurice "Moose" Harling, who will be remembered
as Reubin Askew's mentor and also his press secretary for the eight years he[ Askew]
was governor. Moose had a knowledge of the legislature and covered it thoroughly for
us, and he was the only newsman I ever knew who was honored by both houses of the
legislature for his long service [in] covering the legislature. We covered it that way....
[N]ow we depend on a bureau with two or three people there, representing Fort Myers
and FLORIDA TODAY. They cover all these delegations, and they do not get too close
to either one of them. I think we are doing a disservice in that regard.... We have gotten
away from covering the major [action] that affects people the most, laws affecting your
taxes. We have gone more to what we call people news, and what are people doing?
That is good. I do not disagree with that, but we do not have that solid political coverage
that I thought was important in my time....
P: Describe your relationship with Reubin Askew.
B: Well, very close. He and I were at Florida State together. He was president of the
student government when I was on the Florida Flambeau, and we got to know each
other then.... [I]n those early years at Florida State, he denies it today, but he used to sit
around and we all knew that he was going to try to be governor of Florida one of these
days.... The News Journaldid not endorse him when he made his first run.
P: For governor?
B: Yes.... Then Reubin made such a strong run in that first primary. Al Neuharth, the
president of Gannett, called up the publisher and really shamed him, said good Lord,
FNP 50 page 31
Braden, you did not even support the local boy for governor. Well, we came back in that
second primary, and I wrote a glowing editorial about how we had to have Reubin as
governor.... He grew up kind of poor. He had to work hard.... I always said a person
from Pensacola probably cannot ever be governor because he is going to be perceived
as being too local, too provincial. Reubin, from the very beginning of his political career,
had a total Florida concept, to everything he did. He was concerned with all areas of
Florida. He was not an old West Florida "porkchopper"....
P: How would you assess his two terms as governor?
B: I think he did some great things.... and I think he was a popular governor. I also
have great respect for Bob Graham, who followed him and who, I think, just did a
marvelous job as governor. LeRoy Collins, Reubin Askew and Graham, to me,
represent what I would consider the modern era of transition in Florida....
P: I am certain that you believe that editors need to be not only community leaders
but involved in community affairs and I wanted to discuss out two or three areas where
you were heavily involved. One would be the development of the University of West
Florida. Talk to me about the importance of having a university in Pensacola.
B: That was 1967 when the university finally began. I thought it was a real
breakthrough of ideas that was going to help this region more than any I could think
of.... We did not have a research library in this region. Here was an opportunity to
provide higher education for this part of the Panhandle.... Here we were going to have
our own university.... So I editorialized [and drew lots] of [supportive] cartoons.... Yes, it
is one of the big breakthroughs of my time. It changed the character of this area.
Unfortunately, the University of West Florida has not grown like we thought it would in
FNP 50 page 32
the projections.... I attribute a lot of things that have happened here in this town to the
coming of that university.... So, it changed us, and I was proud to be a part of the
campaign that brought it here....
P: Discuss your role as a leader in the development of Pensacola's historic
preservation and how that has impacted the city.
B: ... I began to write about it [historic preservation] and how we were missing out on
what could be perceived as tourism because we were not preserving what we had here,
an old 400-year-old city that had some Spanish and early American landmarks that
really needed [preservation].... [F]inally, the City Council decided that they wanted to do
something about this. We had discovered that the old Seville Square was Spanish and
that we ought to try to save that neighborhood. They appointed a historical advisory
committee, and... I was chairman of it. We started with that, and... it led to the creation
of the Historic Pensacola Preservation Board through the legislature....
In 1982 Bob Graham appointed me back to the [preservation] board... and I have been
chairman ever since.... I served as president of the Historical Society for eight years, I...
led the campaign to raise over $500,000-to endow the Historical Society so they could
survive. They were depending on a little stipend from the city and county, and they did
not have any money. They were just struggling. Now, they have their own museum
and their own building....
I did not overuse the editorial voice of the paper for the history, but every time I had
the opportunity to write something about the importance of history to this area, I did it,
not because I would get any monetary gain out of it, but because it is important to the
character of this city....[T]he thing that I really the proudest of, my crowning
FNP 50 page 33
achievement as an editor, was Gulf Islands National Seashore. Now that was really a
fight.... Even the Chamber of Commerce came out against us. I stayed right with it. We
covered it thoroughly. I said, you will give the opposition their say in the paper, and we
finally won with the help of many good people in this community, environmental groups,
garden clubs, university faculty, average people who thought we ought to have a
national park rather than just destroying our beaches with overbuilding. That was my
proud editorial campaign because it really was a campaign. I made speeches, and...I
drew  cartoons. But we finally brought the people to our side and won, and Sikes
[Florida Congressman Bob Sikes] got the bill passed. It was signed by Nixon in 1971....
P: What are the benefits and the negative aspects to the relationship between the
community and the military, particularly the naval air station?
B: The benefit is that the Navy is a strong economic component to our community, as
well as cultural. They have been here a long time, as you know. The old Navy Yard,
since 1825, and the flying aspect in 1913, [continuing] today. The Navy is steady.... It is
a government payroll that provided jobs all through the Depression.... Pilots marry girls
from here... and we are known as the mother-in-law of the U.S. Navy. So, the
relationship is almost a love-in between the business or community and the Navy....
What has happened is that the negative, if it could be perceived as the negative, is that
we have spent all our talent and energy and resources trying to protect the Navy [rather]
than the other aspects of legitimate organic growth of the community, whether it be
business and industry or culturally or educationally with the university. We let that
suffer, trying to protect the Navy.... So, we have that love relationship with the Navy,
and it very well may have diminished our ability to diversify our community through new
FNP 50 page 34
P: Let me finish with one major question. What did you want most to accomplish in
your journalistic career when you began, and do you feel like you did so?
B: I indicated to you earlier that I wanted to put out the best newspaper in the region
of my birth, where I had grown up and loved. That was it, a real quality newspaper. In a
sense, during that period of thirty-one years as editor-in-chief of the News Journal, I
became, kind of, two people. I was an editor, and I was out in the community. My
publisher said... get out and lead this community; you can do it. I took him at his word,
not to go out and lead it, but to set forth principles and projects that I thought were
important to this region, to help put us on the map and help us a grow, the seashore,
historical program, university, downtown redevelopment, bay front redevelopment,
modernizing the local government. All of those things, I thought were important. I not
only wrote about them, but I participated in them, not in a political way. I never
participated in any political operation at all, never gave a dollar to any political campaign
or anything like that.... I was an active, hands-on, community-minded editor. I hesitate
to say what happens today, but I do not think you are going to find many editors who do
those kinds of things. They do not serve on committees or chair boards, but I always
thought that was important because it gave me a profile in the community, it helped me
understand the community, it gave me ideas to work for as an editor....
Your service is for the community, not for your own personal gain. I like to think that I
achieved both to a certain extent.... Also, I think some of the things I have done really
have improved the community, and I am very proud of all of that.... I did modernize the
Pensacola News Journal, changed the whole design of it, and added to the staff. At the
FNP 50 page 35
same time, I was able to get out into the community and do things that actually became
reality with the help of a lot of good people....
[End of Interview.]
Jesse Earle Bowden
Mr. Bowden opens his interview by discussing his early interest in journalism while growing up in
Altha, Florida, as well as his first exposure to newspaper business (page 1). In 1947, he enrolled at
Florida State University, ending up as a journalism major, where he recalls specifically the influence
of Professor Earl Vance (page 2). On page 3, he discusses the merits of a liberal arts background for
the journalism training, as well as the pressures of FSU's administration on the student newspaper
while he was a student. This latter discussion is supplemented with an anecdote about a student
editor being forced from his position by the FSU administration (page 4).
Page 5-6 contains Mr, Bowden's recollections on what he did for early journalistic experience,
particularly during his two-year tenure in the Air Force. He talks about his lack of formal training as
a cartoonist, cartooning role models that he admires, and his own technique (page 7-9). Page 9 also
contains his beginnings (in 1953) at the Pensacola News Journal, and page 10, his background in
sports reporting. Page 11, he talks about his responsibilities after being elevated to news editor.
He also discusses the differences between morning and afternoon papers (page 12-13).
Mr. Bowden soon became editorial page editor, the duties of which are described on page 13-14. He
shares his thoughts on the difficulties of writing editorials (page 14), his own political beliefs (page
15), and the flack he received for being pro-civil rights in a conservative town (page 16-17). He also
discusses the nature of newspapers giving political endorsements (page 17-18) and whether they are
effective (18-19). He talks specifically of the Claude Kirk-Robert King High gubernatorial race in
1966 (page 19), along with a general assessment of Kirk's tenure (page 20). Also on page 20, he
recounts his perspective on how politics in the Pensacola area have changed, while later, he discusses
the Askew administration (41-44) and his coverage of the Florida legislature (40-41).
Page 21 regards Mr. Bowden's promotion to editor in chief. He also speaks to the newspaper as
being Perry-owned (page 22) and later, the changes when the paper was bought by Gannett (page 23-
24; see also page 37). He discusses USA TODAY as a newspaper and as a concept (page 24-26),
which leads into a broader monologue on the influence of technology on newspapering (26). With
regard to the News Journal, he speaks of other media competitors, including TV and radio stations
(page 27-28), when he took charge as editor. His specific goals and problems encountered as he took
over are covered in page 28-29, as well as the changing roles of women, minorities, newspaper
audiences, and reporting in general in the journalism business (30-33).
Page 33-34 regard Mr. Bowden's conception of a newspaper's function and his comparison of the
News Journal to other papers of comparable circulation. He talks of his policies on letters to the
editors (34-36), syndicated columnists (36), advertiser discontent (37-39), and his involvement with
Florida journalism societies (page 39-40). He also gives considerable attention to the development
of key sectors of Pensacola's growth and development: University of West Florida (44), historical
preservation in Pensacola (45-47), Pensacola Junior College (48), and the military-Pensacola
relationship (48). He concludes with a remembrance of the great journalists of his era (specifically
Jim Clendenin and Malcolm Johnson) on pages 49-50, and his reflections on his success on
accomplishing the personal goals of his career (pages 50-51).