A Conversation With Candace Page, New England Newspaper Hall Of Fame Inductee

Mar 3, 2017

Vermont reporter Candace Page, who spent more than 30 years at the Burlington Free Press, was inducted into the New England Newspaper Hall of Fame in February. 

Since leaving the Free Press, Page has worked as a reporter and editor at Seven Days. She spoke with Vermont Edition about her career, in which she's covered everything from politics to food, to science and the environment.

(Listen to the full interview from Vermont Edition above.)

Her first job in news:

"The first newsroom I ever worked in was my parents' weekly newspaper, The Suburban List, in Essex Junction. And my first job there, as I was probably 12, was proofreading – which involved hot lead type that had been set in a huge machine and was laid out in banks. And because it was the reverse of what you would see in the newspaper, you had to be able to read upside down and backwards." 

What's changed in the industry:

"In the time that I worked as a reporter, almost everything changed about journalism. The speed at which we communicated changed dramatically. You know, when I started at the Free Press, if the governor said something at 9 o'clock in the morning, it would still be news – brand new – to most of our readers when they picked up their newspaper at 6 o'clock the next morning. Now, that's inconceivable.

"One of the things that I think is a huge change that we don't think about often enough was the proliferation of sources of news. And of course in many ways it's wonderful to have so many voices, so many places to find out what's going on. On the other hand, what we've given up is a common base of knowledge of our communities."

Her approach to the job:

"I've always thought that what I wanted most as a reporter was for readers to read the first four or five paragraphs of my story on the front page and be willing to turn the page and keep reading. It's so easy to lose readers when that's required.

"What I can say about my style that has been consistent is I've always tried to make my stories as lively as possible, so that people would get to the jump and automatically turn the page to find out what was in the next paragraph. And I think the way I did it is by telling stories about people's lives, about featuring characters – characters that can bring an issue alive."

A story that has stayed with her:

"I think possibly the most interesting story I ever reported and wrote never saw the light of day. And if I could go back to it, I think I would. In about 1974-75, I spent three days riding around the Northeast Kingdom with an anti-poverty worker. And I saw people's lives and the poverty of people's lives that as someone who lived in Chittenden County, I had no concept of.

"I will never forget the 80-year-old blind woman who lived alone in one room of a big house with only her radio for company and an outhouse in the backyard. ... That's not the kind of thing that we think happens in Vermont. And if I could go back to seeing those invisible lives and writing about them, that would be very satisfying." 

On her induction to the New England Newspaper Hall of Fame:

"Oh, it's very embarrassing in a way because I feel as if the people who nominated me, all of them are much better journalists than I was. What I have over them, I think, is I'm older ... It is very nice for someone who spent most of her career at a 50,000 circulation newspaper to be recognized by the journalism community and by people I really respect."