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WHITE NOISE

by YES! Staff

Our industry in crisis

In August 2004, I left a high-stress, slightly dysfunctional community weekly in Española, NM for greener pastures in North Carolina. Opportunity knocked with a job interview for the nascent YES! Weekly. There was an opening at the Reidsville Review or the Eden Daily News — I can’t quite remember which — around that time, so I took a spin up to Rockingham County just to see the lay of the land. For many reasons, primarily having to do with fabricated quotes and reports from a colleague that owner Media General unreasonably demands that reporters pressure family members of decedents into granting interviews, I’m glad I stuck to the metropolis. Now I’ve got another reason to be glad I made the decision I did: A Media General website posted a letter from publisher Steven W. Kaylor announcing that the Review and the Daily News will scale back from daily to biweekly publication beginning March 28. — JG

Goodbye to all that

Longtime News & Record columnist — 12 years, by her count — and newsroom veteran Lorraine Ahearn announced in her Sunday column that she will be hanging up her thrice-weekly column and bringing her talents to the investigative reporting division at the paper. Opinions in the comments section of the N&R website were… mixed, but to people who know and care about investigative reporting, it’s good news. Around here we regard her as one of the best journalists in the state, and we look forward to seeing what kind of miscreancy she will dig up. For a look at her chops, read her Sunday centerpiece on Philip Koritz, the labor organizer who took part in a strike against RJ Reynolds in the 1940s — narrative journalism at its best. — BC

Back in action

Former Baltimore Sun crime reporter David Simon, who is better known these days as the creative mind behind the HBO series “The Wire,” got back on his horse last week after a Baltimore police officer shot a 61-year-old unarmed citizen. Unable to find any information about the officers involved or the circumstances of the shooting, he wrote in Sunday’s Washington Post, “one old police reporter lost his mind

and began making calls.” He says he was met with resistance from public officials at many levels along the way, and was left with a dismal take on his old profession: “In an American city, a police officer with the authority to take human life can now do so in the shadows, while his higherups can claim that this is necessary not to avoid public accountability, but to mitigate against a nonexistent wave of threats. And the last remaining daily newspaper in town no longer has the manpower, the expertise or the institutional memory to challenge any of it.” — BC

N&O employees wait and watch for next round of layoffs

Ever since the McClatchy Company, parent company of the Raleigh News & Observer, reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $20.4 million, or 25 cents per share on Feb. 5, N&O employees have been waiting for the axe to fall. Layoffs and buyouts that started last spring have added up to 233 lost jobs, according to the Triangulator, the Independent Weekly’s blog. Remarkably, the N&O launched two new weeklies in January, the Garner-

Clayton Record and the Southwest Wake News. Like its other community weeklies, the new editions are delivered free to the homes of non-subscribers as well as subscribers, a total market penetration approach to boost local advertising. That might seem counterintuitive for McClatchy, considering the fact the company reported a 17.9-percent drop in revenues during the fourth quarter of 2008. It appears inevitable some hard choices will have to be made regarding the N&O’s remaining 600-plus employees. “We had hoped that previous cuts would be sufficient to see us through the sharp revenue declines affecting our industry,” N&O publisher Orage Quarles III said in a statement e-mailed to employees last month. “Unfortunately, we have seen an unprecedented loss in advertising revenue with many of our retailers and auto dealers either going out of business or leaving the area.” Due in large part to budget and personnel cuts, N&O properties The Durham News, The Cary News and the The Chapel Hill News are mere shells of what they once were, according to the Triangulator. — KTB

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