The Truth About My Relationship With “Buckie” Fore

Published 4:56 pm Thursday, March 29, 2012

Throughout the years, individuals who work at The Farmville Herald have many times won the votes of their fellow residents to serve on local elected governing bodies, voters who knew full well about those candidates' connection with this newspaper when they voted them into office.

Publisher emeritus William B. Wall served for 40 years on Farmville's Town Council before retiring from public service in 2002.

Herald news manager John Steck served on the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors more than three decades ago.

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William Bidgood Wall, then-editor of The Herald, also served on the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors a little more than two decades ago.

Today, former Herald ad manager, now a part-time employee in the ad department, William G. “Buckie” Fore serves as chairman of the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors, elected and re-elected by residents in the Buffalo District.

How does having an elected official who is also a newspaper employee function within the walls of The Farmville Herald? It is probably a good idea to ask and answer that question when the situation exists, as it does now.

I can only speak factually, honestly from first-hand personal experience and I shall do so.

Mr. Steck was before my time and Bid Wall's Board of Supervisors path didn't cross with my journalistic beat. I did cover Town Council when Bill Wall represented Ward B, for the last 15 years of his tenure on that governing body. He never once tried to interfere or influence my coverage of Town Council meetings or editorials about Town business.

Because some folks might wonder, given that we are both employed by this newspaper, as I type these words I can also swear on a stack of Bibles that Mr. Fore has never once tried to pressure me or interfere with my editorial writing regarding Prince Edward County, its Board of Supervisors, County business or any other subject. He has never even suggested that I write an editorial on any subject. He has never suggested that I not write an editorial on any subject. Nor has he ever asked me or told me to write about anything at all or not to write about anything at all.

Mr. Fore knows better. It would be inappropriate for him to even try. And, naturally, he has nothing to do with letters to the editor, either. He sees those like everybody else-in the newspaper. Not before. He has no input whatsoever.

I jealously guard my editorial autonomy-the editorial opinions are mine and mine alone; those are my initials there at the end-and my personality is one that would respond to any pressure to do A by vigorously doing Z, instead.

The owners of this paper have given me editorial freedom, for which I am most grateful. There is no way I would then give any degree of that prized editorial freedom away to Mr. Fore or anyone else. If the owners don't try to tell me how to editorialize, Mr. Fore certainly isn't going to.

Nor, obviously, do I go around asking for editorial suggestions.

Furthermore, Mr. Fore has never discussed with me or tried to influence me with regard to the Herald's news coverage about Prince Edward County, its Board of Supervisors or County business.

Anyone who believes otherwise is wrong.

That is not an opinion.

It is a fact.

Two people can work in the same building without becoming co-conspirators in some master plan of government power and control. Just look at Nancy Pelosi and Eric Cantor in Congress. They can't agree on the day of the week.

Mr. Fore, for example, learned that I am calling on Prince Edward County to annually fund the Moton Museum at $50,000 per year when he read the Friday, March 9 edition of The Farmville Herald. Not before.

On average, I estimate I actually see Mr. Fore for a total of just a few moments each week. We work in different departments on different floors and he's part-time. As I compose this editorial on Friday, March 16, a week in which the Board of Supervisors held its March meeting, I saw Mr. Fore for a total of less than 10 seconds this week. Walking to the Herald's break room area I saw him to my right over in the ad department and said, “Hey, Buckie” and he looked up as I went past and said, “Hey, Kenny.” That was it for the entire week. Not untypical, either. (I don't recall seeing him or speaking with during the first week in March.)

And, no, we didn't communicate by phone or email. I do not know Mr. Fore's email address. I do not know if he even has an email address. I do not know Mr. Fore's cell phone number. I do not even know if he has a cell phone. I'd have to look his home phone number up in the phone book.

(Update: last week I did not see Mr. Fore at all, though I believe we may have passed each other, driving separate cars, on the Back Hampden-Sydney Road one afternoon. As I reach my editorial deadline this week I have not seen Mr. Fore at all. So, in nearly a month we have exchanged two words each, for a total of four words, two of them 'Hey').

There are only two people in the whole world who can tell you the certain, first-hand truth about my relationship with William G. “Buckie” Fore. Me. And Mr. Fore. That's it. Nobody else can because they do not know, and cannot possibly know, the facts.

So here's the certain, first-hand truth about my relationship with William G. “Buckie” Fore, if you haven't guessed by now:

Mr. Fore doesn't try to tell me what to do-ever. Nor does anyone inside or outside of this building on his behalf. As a politician Mr. Fore certainly could try and influence media coverage. It wouldn't be illegal to do so. Politicians all over the world-from the president on down-try almost every day to influence news coverage and editorial positions. Journalists are constantly dealing with political spin doctors.

But Mr. Fore has never engaged in such behavior with me, and I respect him for that. He and I observe our own professional, ethical protocols and they exceed anything that is required.

In fact, Mr. Fore has absolutely no idea I am writing these words right here and he will, as always, read the editorial when everybody else does-after it is printed in The Farmville Herald. Even though he figures personally and prominently in these words, I will not give him an advance heads-up or copy.

As I finish this editorial, I am the only person in the world who knows it has been written.

That is the truth.