Receptionist to Editor: A Journalist’s Unexpected Journey

I came to Dallas in 1985 looking for something, although I wasn’t sure what. 

Although, taking a job as the Park Cities People receptionist didn’t feel like a life-changing experience, little did I know.

I just needed a job. The economy — thanks to the oil industry — in my home state of Oklahoma was in the dumpster. Businesses were closing almost hourly in the town where I lived. Dallas — too big, too impersonal, seemed the last place I’d end up — yet here I was.

Glenda Vosburgh

I’d answered a help wanted ad. The word newspaper got my attention. I’d worked in advertising sales and production for a daily paper and, after working briefly in another industry, wanted to return.

The woman at the employment agency told me excitedly that the job was in the Park Cities. 

“What’s the Park Cities?” I asked.

She answered with phrases like “wealthy enclaves” and “high society.”

I decided the job probably wasn’t a good fit for me. Nonetheless, I interviewed with owner and publisher, Reid Slaughter. Not long after, he offered me the job.

A few months later at a company party, I mentioned that I wrote fiction in my spare time. Slaughter asked to see my work. After reading a recently published short story, he told me to let him know when I wanted to write for the paper. 

Opportunity doesn’t often come with a neon sign. Sometimes, the most benign situations turn out to be the most profound.

Glenda Vosburgh

My answer was immediate: “How about now?”

My first assignment was for an advertising section on the antique stores in Forney. I spent an entire day wandering from shop to shop, interviewing owners and customers for my article. I was hooked.

I was still the receptionist but was able to write articles, too. After proving myself, publisher Tom McCartin made me a full-time reporter. I was ultimately promoted to senior writer, then managing editor.

One of the best things about my job was the variety. My duties included covering Highland Park schools and University Park police, fire and municipal news. I wrote about high-profile murder trials, school board and city council elections, non-profits, community leaders, school carnivals, and the list goes on. I also served as the movie reviewer, allowing me to interview celebrities.

One thing I’m most proud of, along with fellow reporters and long-time friends Carolyn Tillery and Janet Ragland, is winning a Katy Award from the Dallas Press Club for the series Elisa’s Story. It focused on a young woman, Elisa McCall, whose personal struggle with eating disorders drove her to end her life. The Elisa Project, founded in her memory, helped others embroiled in the same battles. It was a privilege to have a role in telling her story.

One of my favorite interviews was with the Grande Dame of real estate, Ebby Halliday. She was witty, entertaining, and incredibly gracious.

My plan was to stay a year at the paper, maybe two. It turned into more than 13 years. Opportunity doesn’t often come with a neon sign. Sometimes, the most benign situations turn out to be the most profound.

For nearly 40 years, People Newspapers has worked tirelessly to tell the stories—good, bad, and sublime—of our neighbors in the Park Cities and Preston Hollow. To support our efforts, please contact [email protected]for advertising opportunities. Please also consider sharing this story with your friends and social media followers.

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