Editors And Parents

By Roy Harris

Please allow me a brief diversion from discussing the day-to-day challenges of dealing with journalism’s vast issues to mention the huge debt that so many of us editors owe our parents.

I thought of this as I read a Boston Globe article this week, marking the passing, at 77, of Samuel McCracken, father of long-time ASBPE member and technology expert Harry McCracken, who is now editor-at-large with Time magazine.

Many B2B journalists will recognize Harry for his contributions to numerous ASBPE panels, on topics ranging from digital media to journalistic entrepreneurism. Harry himself had been a leading entrepreneur, operating his Technologizer site. He also inspired many of us in 2007, when he resigned from his PC World editorship after its CEO at the time, without advising the editor in advance, canceled a column that the publisher saw as critical of a major advertiser, Apple. (In a surprising turn, the CEO left, and Harry took his job back.)

As I read the story about Samuel McCracken and grieved for Harry — who like his father is a man of great intellect, and loyalty — I was reminded of how powerful the quiet influence of our parents often is: helping guide us in making career choices, using our reasoning capabilities to the fullest and holding true to our principles.

I often felt that power in my relationship with my own journalist father, whom I lost when he was 78 and I was 34. So many other editors I know speak of their parents as major career and personal influences, as well.

Indeed, in many ways the role of a parent is similar to that of an editor — whose most powerful influence may well be the tone they set in the newsroom, where the standards for our work take shape, even when the editor isn’t overtly assigning stories or changing copy.

Like my own parents, I hold the great editors I’ve had throughout my career as strongly influential, in both my career and in my personal life.

Those connections are never lost.

Photo of Roy Harris

Roy Harris, currently the president of the ASBPE Foundation and a former national president of ASBPE, has worked for CFO Magazine, and has served as editorial director of CFOworld.com. He is a former Wall Street Journal reporter.

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