On well-informed journalists and kudos to GPD

by Brian Clarey

Information is my job. I read a lot of newspapers and magazines, mostly on the internet, but I do like to get my hands dirty with a print edition when I have the time and the dime. used to say. It’s a necessity of my job, I believe, to stay as well informed as I can about matters that affect my community, my readers. Most newspaper editors will tell you the same thing. I like the New York Times and the Washington Post. I like Esquire and the Atlantic. Occasionally I’ll peruse the Wall Street Journal or Politico. I think it’s important to get news from a variety of sources to get a full picture of the events that shape our lives. To stay informed locally I read the News & Record and a lot of blogs. And yes, I generally read the Rhinoceros Times when it hits the streets on Thursdays. In the old days of media it was considered taboo to mention the names of your competitors, much less admit that you pay attention to what they’re working on. But I hold no such views — in fact, I think it would be pretty stupid of me not to keep tabs on what the guys in second place are doing. I am rarely surprised by what I read in the Rhino, but last week I did see something — or rather, the lack of something — that caught me off guard. It was in Rhino Editor John Hammer’s “think piece” about Greensboro City Council District 4 Representative Mike Barber’s announcement that he will not run for the seat again this year. “[H]aving Barber drop out of the District 4 races raises all kinds of possibilities,” Hammer wrote, and then went on to suggest that current at-large Council Member Mary Rakestraw or former atlarge contender Bill Knight might want the seat. The piece runs about 1,000 words, pretty long for a Rhino story that’s not Scott Yost’s column or an installment of Cops in Black & White. Yet nowhere does it mention that two Greensboroans have already thrown their hats into the ring for the District 4 seat. As first reported on the YES! Weekly blog in January, Joel Landau, manager of Deep Roots Market and former New York City resident who lost an bid for an at-large seat in 2007, declared his intention to run for Barber’s seat. Teresa Jobe, a political newcomer, expressed the intention in January to run either for the District 4 seat or one of the three at-large posts and has since settled on campaigning for Barber’s seat according to her website,

Why would Hammer omit information like this in a story about the District 4 race? Was he trying to frame the election as between candidates of his choosing, or was he simply uninformed about the developments taking shape in the race? Frankly, I don’t care — but it does provide a shining example of why you shouldn’t get all your news from one source, especially a source that has an admitted agenda towards anything other than the whole truth. Here’s hoping that the Rhino’s 2009 election coverage will be a bit more inclusive. *** Switching gears for a minute…. Saturday afternoon I came home from a day with the children to find a police cruiser parked in front of my house. Usually, in my neighborhood, that is not good news. The lone cop on the scene, Officer JD Sturm, came over and spoke with me. He said that he was there because of complaints about my next-door neighbor’s car, which was parked illegally on a busy corner, and that a tow truck was on the way to remove the car.

“Kind of an expensive lesson,” I said. He agreed. “But,” he said, “if I just ticket the car and someone hits it, my supervisors will want to know why I didn’t have it towed.” In fact, he said, he had knocked on the neighbor’s door several times to warn them about the car, to no avail. He also ran the home address and the car’s tags to get some phone numbers, which he said he had been calling repeatedly to get them to move the car. And when the flatbed tow-truck driver showed up, Officer Sturm stalled him for a couple more minutes to make sure the situation couldn’t be resolved without a $175 towing charge. As it turns out, it could. Sturm finally got my neighbor’s daughter on the phone. Her mother was immobilized inside the house with a case of pneumonia, she said, and the daughter raced back to the neighborhood to move the car 10 feet to a legal parking space. In all, Sturm spent about 90 minutes on my street, way above and beyond normal due diligence. And instead of acting in an adversarial manner towards my next-door neighbor, he helped a sick woman and her family avoid another cost in what has likely been a very expensive year so far. Sturm and I spoke a bit about the struggles the department is having, and I was once again reassured that there are plenty of good cops on our police force who believe in their mandate to protect, yes, but also to serve the citizens of Greensboro, and who do it with competency, expediency and humanity. For Sturm, it was likely just another day at the office. For me it was an opportunity to point out one of the many positive things the Greensboro Police Department does every day.

…It does provide a shining example of why you shouldn’t get allyour news from one source, especially a source that has an admittedagenda towards anything other than the whole truth.