by YES! Staff

Commendable work

Hat tip to Taft Wireback at the News & Record for institutional memory. Yes, there are lot of things wrong with daily newspapers. Their reporters often get stuck in the silo syndrome, one reporting on municipal government, while another reports on the police and still another reports on the courts, but none of them put all the pieces together. Or they flit along from moment to moment, reporting public officials statements, but not checking them for consistency with their actions or past rhetoric. They ballyhoo criminal charges against supposed malefactors, but neglect to follow up to find out whether the charges are sustained in the court. Taft Wireback, though. The guy has been working for the N&R since a long time before the first issue of this alt-weekly rolled off the presses. Wireback reported in Sunday’s paper that the homeowners in a swath of the Quail Oaks subdivision slated for demolition to make way for an interchange on a new section of the Urban Loop were never told of the project — and that taxpayers will have to pay an inflated price for the developed property. Any enterprising reporter could have gotten the story, but only a veteran like Wireback would be likely to piece together that taxpayers have already been soaked on this development before going back to a $291,000 loan to Project Homestead before its leader committed suicide and the nonprofit went bankrupt. And it’s pretty cool that Wireback enlisted former N&R reporter Lanita Withers and her husband to go in undercover posing as prospective homebuyers to get a Keystone on record as saying she knew of no plans for a highway to cut through the subdivision. — JG

The dailies under siege

Last week our friends at the Independent Weekly over in the Triangle ran a cover piece by reporter Fiona Morgan about the challenges facing the Raleigh News & Observer, which lost 31 editorial employees in its latest round of layoffs, even though its publisher, Orage Quarles III, maintains that the daily newspaper is still profitable. The piece poses a relevant question: “[I]f the N&O is still making a profit, why cut so deep?” (Answer: The paper’s corporate owner, McClatchy, leveraged future profits to secure loans to buy more newspapers.) It’s an uncompromising look at the state of the daily newspaper in a market much larger than our own, with a few suggestions but very little in the way of answers, but it’s worth it for the swipe at McClatchy CEO Gary Pruitt and the link to the fake front page, created by downsized N&O employees, spoofing him. It has become a journalism classic. See for yourself at — BC