First Person Singular: Eric Bond, editor and publisher of the Takoma Voice
I was working on my PhD in English at the University of Maryland and was writing for the Takoma Voice. The guy who owned it was leaving, and it looked like the paper would fold. I said, "Can I take it over?" and he said, "Sure, here's how much debt it's in," and we kind of worked it out on a napkin. We never did any formal contract or anything; he just stopped running the paper, and I started running it.
At that point in my life -- and still -- it felt very important to maintain the paper. To me, it represents hometown values, the personal side of people living together. There's so many forces alienating people from each other. I'm not a party person, I'm not someone who wants to spend a lot of time with other people, but I feel like we're all here together, so we should try to figure each other out and learn to accept each other. Which I kind of think the paper is about.
There's a country song -- I can't remember who sings it, but she says, "Everyone dies famous in a small town." I like the idea that people feel special when they see themselves in the paper. I have this weird goal that every kid in town ought to have their photo in the paper once before they turn 18.
Unfortunately, we've had to cut back since the recession, so I'm the webmaster, I'm the marketing director, I'm the salesman, I'm the editor. I'm assigning stories, I'm trying my hardest to keep things up-to-date online. I do most of the layout. There's always plenty to do. Much, much more of my time is devoted to figuring out how to raise funds, and that's my least favorite task.
We had a fundraiser a little over a year ago, and the community really came out. It was a shot in the arm to me that people care, because we were looking at maybe having to close down. I put in 60 to 80 hours a week, and it's not as much fun as you think it would be.
Because of the recession, we've been struggling so much that you just kind of think, Is it worth it? So then when you have 150 people come out to a fundraiser, you're like, "Oh, yeah, I think so. This matters to other people, not just me." Now I'm working on just getting enough sleep so that I can enjoy it more.
Interview by Amanda Abrams