Editorial Writers: Those People Who Shoot Out Windows


Peter Lisagor, the late respected newspaper reporter, sai once that "An old editor told me to walk down the middle of the street and shoot windows out on both sides."

Editorial writers on the other hand are supposed to shoot at only one side. The trick is to guess which side needs shooting more. Choices are often less clearly right or wrong than the dummy saints and rogues who pop up in police shooting galleries.

In a follow-up to earlier columns on Baltimore Sun editorial writing, let me introduce the writers choosing targets here.

Barry Rascovar grew up in northwest Baltimore and the seven others were born and raised elsewhere, up and down the East Coast. They began their careers as young reporters and are now newspaper veterans, 43 to 64 years old. They live in Baltimore city and Baltimore county.

Sara Engram is the only woman since Jerelyn Eddings, Linda Cotton and Joan Tyner got new assignments. Two of the latter three are black. There are two remaining blacks, one of them, Garland L. Thompson, on a leave of absence. A black male and white female are among the other seven county/city editorial writers profiled Sept. 23.

"For about 15 years, I never hired a white male editorial writer," says Joseph R. L. Sterne, editorial page editor who regrets the current imbalance toward white males.

These writers do editorials, usually one a day:

Mr. Sterne, 64, of Lutherville, Baltimore County, editorial page editor; born and grew up in Philadelphia; Lehigh University and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism; began at The Sun covering crime in Northwestern Police District in July 1953; later covered courts, City Hall, rewrite, general assignment, London in 1957 in first foreign tour; Congress and other Washington beats; Bonn bureau, 1969-1972; became editorial writer June 1972 and in December of that year, editorial page editor. Special interests: foreign affairs, national politics, economics. Assignment: oversees editorial pages of The Sun and The Evening Sun.

Mr. Rascovar, 46, of Greenspring Valley, Baltimore County, editorial-page director of The Sun, a kind of city editor running the day-to-day show; born and raised in northwest Baltimore (Forest Park High School); Dickinson College and Columbia Journalism; came to The Sun in 1969 after working two summers with The Sunday Sun while in college; as a reporter, covered City Hall, state government, Congress, White House. Assignment: puts out The Sun's page; writes editorials, Sunday column on state and local governments.

Ms. Engram, 43, of Ruxton, Baltimore County, editorial-page director, The Evening Sun; born and grew up in Enterprise, Ala. (home of the Boll Weevil Monument, "world's only monument glorifying a pest"; Salem College, Winston-Salem, N.C., and Yale Divinity School; began as a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter in Delaware; religion reporter, then editorial page editor of The News American in Baltimore; came to The Evening Sun in 1981 as deputy editorial page editor. Assignment: puts out The Evening Sun page and writes on social issues and health care. Special interest: only American newspaper columnist writing exclusively about death in a column on "Mortal Matters"; column to end soon because of other interests, such as her six-month-old boy.

James S. Keat, 62, of Federal Hill, Baltimore, editorial page coordinator; born in New York City; grew up in New York and Providence; Brown University and Columbia Journalism; Came to The Sun as a reporter in 1956; Evening Sun editorial writer; New Delhi bureau chief; first editor of Perspective Section in Sunday Sun; foreign editor; Washington Bureau reporter; assistant managing editor, The Sun, 1975-91. Assignment: handles administration, writes occasional editorials and columns. Handles letters to the editor (50 to 75 arrive each day mostly for The Sun, up to 80 are printed each week).

Daniel Berger, 60, of Roland Park, Baltimore; born in New York City and grew up in Great Neck, Long Island, N.Y.; Oberlin and Nieman Journalism Fellow at Harvard; wrote for Cleveland Press, Indianapolis Times and New York Herald-Tribune. Came to Evening Sun as editorial writer in 1967; The Sun's London correspondent 1969-72, Sun editorial writer since 1973 with assignment including foreign affairs, private higher education, obituaries of great people and "volunteer of last resort on anything". Author of thousands of one line italicisms in The Evening Sun.

Theo Lippman Jr., 63, of Wyman Park, Baltimore; born in Brunswick, Ga. and grew up in Atlanta; Emory University; reporter small Georgia papers, Savannah Morning News and Atlanta Constitution, where he was reporter, editorial writer, Washington correspondent, copy editor; editorial writer at The Sun since 1965, except for national election reporting in 1968; author of biographies of FDR, Ed Muskie, Spiro Agnew and Ted " Kennedy; editor of collection of Mencken's writings on newspapering; teaches opinion writing at John Hopkins University. Assignment: national politics and administration of justice.

Glenn M. McNatt, 43, of Charles Village and Alexandria, Va; born in New York City; grew up in New York and Teaneck, N.J.; Brandeis University for B.A. and M.A.; taught Afro-American studies at Brandeis and English and sociology at Wellesley College; began in newspapers as reporter with Newark Star-Ledger in 1972; wrote for Time Inc. for seven years in Washington and New York bureaus and for the Time-Life Books Division in Alexandria; began as editorial writer for The Evening Sun in 1985; assignment: social and intellectual trends, science and culture. Has written on city and state problems and music (plays the piano and the classical guitar).

Garland Thompson, 49, of East Baltimore; born in Chester, Pa. and grew up there and in Philadelphia; after ten years as an electronics technician in the Navy and for the phone company, graduated from Temple University and Temple's School of Law; while in law school, wrote editorials and covered police for the Philadelphia Inquirer; became executive editor of Philadelphia Tribune, the country's oldest black paper; came to The Sun in 1985 as editorial writer on science, technology, the environment and health sciences; has taught journalists in various programs, is on leave until May teaching at the William Allen White School of Journalism, University of Kansas.

Editors of the outside commentary pages and Perspective section and cartoonists will be profiled Oct. 25.

Ernest Imhoff is readers' representative for The Baltimore Sun.

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