04/11/11 — Price named to Journalism Hall of Fame

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Price named to Journalism Hall of Fame

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on April 11, 2011 1:46 PM

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Former News-Argus editor Gene Price speaks after his induction into the North Carolina Journalism Hall of Fame. Price was introduced by his most notable mentee, Pulitzer Prize winner Gene Roberts.

CHAPEL HILL -- For a moment, it was as if Gene Price had been transported to the corner office where he hosted thousands of conversations with neighbors, colleagues and community leaders -- like he was back in his element, among the friends that nurtured his persona as the voice of the city and county he has called home for decades.

But the longtime News-Argus editor was not preparing his latest column Sunday evening inside the Carolina Inn ballroom.

And most of those in the room had never appeared as a character in one of the anecdotes that added, toward the end of his career, to his legacy as Goldsboro's most beloved storyteller.

Price traveled to Chapel Hill this weekend to take his place alongside North Carolina's most celebrated journalists -- men and women whose lasting influence has been immortalized in the state Journalism Hall of Fame.

But had you closed your eyes and merely listened to what unfolded when he took his place behind the lectern, you might not have known just how monumental the achievement really was.

He spoke, quite simply, as the same Gene Price who, hours earlier, told stories from his heyday over a plate of Grady's barbecue.

"I have just been over introduced," Price said, evoking laughter from the hundred-plus in attendance after his most notable mentee, Gene Roberts, talked about just why the man was so worthy of such an honor. "And while I was over introduced, I was insufferably pleased."

Roberts did for his former boss what those who know Price realize he would never do for himself -- speaking of his half-century of impact in a field that, at the time, relied heavily on those who could truly relate to their community.

"He transformed the News-Argus into the kind of paper that helped us give North Carolina its national reputation for high quality journalism," Roberts said. "He had the talent and ability to work at any newspaper in America, no matter how big or prestigious, but he elected to stay in Goldsboro and Wayne County because he felt at home there and wanted to see his county and county seat grow and prosper.

"Wayne County was better for this decision and so was the state."

Price was humbled.

"This, it was never anticipated or dreamed of," he said. "But when I learned of those who nominated me ... I realized that this would be the most memorable moment in my career."