Jan. 21, 2009 12:00

WHITE NOISE: News and information from inside the media bubble

Some haters

Flyers wrapped around recycled pages of the News & Record and sealed in blue plastic bags proclaiming the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday to be “a national disgrace” turned up in the driveways of residents in the Adams Farm section of Greensboro on Monday morning. The flyers advertise the Knights Party of the Ku Klux Klan, an Arkansas oufit run by Thomas Robb that advocates for “white Christians.” The flyers accuse King of slandering the military, attempt to link him to communist groups and assail his purported “anti-women behavior, his ‘secret’ homosexual lifestyle, and his subversive actions towards American and its traditions of Christian decency.” The Knights Party has been sued by The Rhinoceros Times in the past for using its pages to package racist propaganda. The flyer distributed Monday contains the proviso, “The attached newspaper/magazine is for weight purposes and should not be considered an endorsement of either this flyer [or] the Knights Party.” — JG

NYT’s Obama love-fest

Call me provincialist, but is the media overallocating resources and getting too worked up about the inauguration? It’s historic, of course, that the first African-American president is about to be sworn in and that the US government is undergoing a seismic course change, but those facts are already known. The major developments of the inauguration are likely to be a speech — of which we’ve heard many already — and the significant logistical hurdles of accommodating and transporting the largest number of people to ever attend the event. So far, some coverage seems to suffer from overwrought prose struggling to meet the expectations of the event. For instance, Helene Cooper reported in The New York Times on Sunday that the Lincoln Memorial concert “seemed a cross between the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington and Woodstock.”

Cooper’s story focused on one Elizabeth Ross, a 57year-old African-American woman from Lorman, Miss. dressed in a floor-length mink coat. The writer marvels that the charisma of Barack Obama got Ross to attend a Bruce Springsteen concert — something she had never before done. “And yet, there she was, along with three girlfriends — all in floor-length minks — huddled in the cold, tapping their feet to the beat. Four middle-age, African-American women, talking about the Selmato-Montgomery march in 1965, about Dr. King, about the civil rights movement — and listening to Bruce.” I somehow miss the significance of the cultural moment. I mean, these are not exactly divergent constituencies. — JG

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Our industry in crisis

Sorry for the delay, but I only just recently remembered to check the annual tally on the Papercuts blog, which keeps a running total of all journalism jobs lost in the US. It seems 2008 was a banner year for the site: At least 15,554 journalism jobs were lost last year. The 2007 total was 2,185 . Final numbers for North Carolina are not in just yet — we’re still waiting for totals of layoffs announced last year from the Winston-Salem Journal and the News & Record, for example. But the two biggest fish in the pond, the Charlotte Observer and the Raleigh News & Observer, accounted for most of them: almost 450 job cuts between them. The 2009 ticker at Papercuts is well underway, with 327 journalism jobs lost this year as of press time. — BC

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