by YES! Weekly staff

Our industry in crisis

The newspaper industry has lost more than 7,000 jobs so far in 2008 as documented on the Paper Cuts blog at papercuts, about triple the 2007 total. In North Carolina this year we’ve seen reductions in the staffs at the Charlotte Observer (25 in January and 123 in May), the Raleigh News & Observer (16 in January and 70 in April), the Durham Herald-Sun (seven in July), the Winston-Salem Journal (parent company McClatchy will cut 750 jobs nationwide, an unspecified amount at the Journal) and the Lexington Dispatch (five jobs lost in February and March — the Dispatch will also cease Monday publication in September, fomenting more layoffs). Meanwhile, parent company Landmark has put the Greensboro News & Record on the block with an eye towards a sale by Labor Day. Seriously: Is it too late to go to refrigeration school? — BC

NC notoriety

The arrest of Graham Public Library employee Marxavi Angel Martinez has the makings of a cause célèbre: a sympathetic subject, a murky law enforcement decision and a flashpoint of controversy. Following a couple weeks of reporting by the Burlington Times News and the News & Observer, Martinez’s story got its first workout from a metropolitan daily newspaper columnist on Sunday with a piece in the News & Record by Lorraine Ahearn entitled “Walking tall: Raiding libraries in Alamance,” and on Monday the lead editorial in the Charlotte Observer accused Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson of crossing “a line of decency.” A Google search for Martinez’s name reveals widespread interest in the case both locally and beyond North Carolina, with the top item being a dispatch from United

Press International that mangles the name of the Raleigh paper by calling it the News & Sentinel, followed by a story from Fox 8 WGHP; a reposted news story courtesy of Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee; a post by conservative blogger Sam Hieb, who operates the Piedmont Publius site; and a post by UNC Chapel Hill graduate student Joe Duarte, who blogs at A Galaxy Far, Far Away and who tried unsuccessfully to get himself arrested by Sheriff Johnson to demonstrate solidarity with Martinez. — JG

Give ’em hell, Helen

Helen Thomas turned 88 on Aug. 4, two weeks before a documentary about her career covering the White House is scheduled to air on HBO. Thomas has covered nine administrations, beginning with John F. Kennedy in 1961. Thomas has always played hardball, a habit that has made her terribly unpopular with the current president and his minions. They’ve been ignoring Thomas for years, but the grand dame of White House correspondents gets her due in the documentary entitled Thank You Mr. President: Helen Thomas at the White House. Thomas is currently recovering from an infection and is on leave from her position at Hearst Newspapers. — AK