Up Front: October 2007
As business editor of The News & Observer, Dan Gearino wrote a weekly column, but one annoyed the executive editor so much that he pulled the plug. “I’ll stipulate the charge: My columns were notably short on reverence,” concedes Dan, who channeled some of the creative energy that went into writing the column to his first novel — What the Deaf-Mute Heard — which Simon & Schuster published. It would win the state’s top fiction prize and be turned into the highest-rated TV movie of the decade.
The Raleigh paper’s executive editor — a new one — read the book and decided Dan should be writing rather than editing. “He created a columnist job for me, which I was happy to take because I’d already started to face the unfortunate reality that I wasn’t cut from the right management cloth. That was 1996, and I spent the next 11 years in that job. Wrote another three novels in my spare time, too.”
Now Dan, 54, has struck out on his own. Among his new ventures, including finishing a fifth novel, is writing a monthly column for BNC, the first of which you’ll find in this issue. “What I hope to do with the column, in addition to being a good-natured voice of skepticism, is to act as a dot-connector, spin-spotter and reader of fine print. There are often two levels of reality in the business world: There are the things businesses think, and say, they’re doing, and then there are the actual results of what they do. There is occasionally a huge gap between those two, as this first column on customer service in the banking industry illustrates.
“I’ll never pose myself as a business authority, a charade that would be exposed within minutes, nor will I ever be so foolish as to tell anyone how to run a company. Instead, I’ll be that curious fellow who has a knack for pertinent observations and impertinent questions. The only guarantee I’ll make is that every column will be eminently readable.”
Unlike Dan, an Atlanta native who during a 30-year career also worked for publications in Florida, Colorado, Wyoming, Michigan, Montana and Alberta, Canada, our other new columnist is a lifelong Tar Heel — though that description might chafe a State grad. Scott Mooneyham, 44, is editor of The Insider, the multimedia news service covering state government, and columnist for the Capitol Press Association. After reporting for newspapers in Goldsboro and Fayetteville, he worked in his native Raleigh for the Associated Press from 1996 to 2004, the last six years covering politics and the legislature and the final three as the bureau’s chief political writer.
His assignment for us is to pry into the untidy, often shadowy corners where business and government intersect. “I hope to do what I’ve always strived to do in writing about politics, providing a straightforward — if sometimes unconventional — perspective that cuts through the political-speak and the occasional tediousness of the policymaking process. I’ll also try to focus on some issues that, though important public policy, might have been missed by the broader news media.”
Their opinionated voices are two I hope you’ll enjoy. And speaking of opinions: Like that certain orifice, everyone has one. So rather than just sit on yours, let us know what you think of these columns — or anything else in this magazine — by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.