Sunday sampler

It’s always fun to be surprised by the interesting journalism on the front pages of the state’s newspapers. Today wasn’t bad.

Raleigh — The News & Observer gives us two stories, which isn’t that unusual for the N&O. One is on Faith Hedgepeth, the 19-year-old UNC-Chapel Hill student found dead in her apartment last month. It’s a write-through on her and the crime. Whenever a college student is killed, it’s a big story on campus. This is no different.

The second N&O story is about the decline in juvenile crime in the state.”The state is now locking up far fewer teens than it did a decade ago, finding treatment alternatives to its former system of training schools.” Of course, the laws that addressed this were passed 15 years ago, when the state legislature worked together to solve problems.


Winston-Salem — The Journal revisits the gay marriage debate by focusing on a gay couple — married in Vermont — that wants to keep its marriage intact. One partner is awaiting a green card so that he can remain in the United States. A Supreme Court ruling could resolve the issue.






Gastonia — The Gazette focuses on the bureaucratic nightmare that is apparently the Gaston County DSS when it comes to foster children. It is powerful stuff. “The Buchanans are highly regarded foster parents who began fostering a newborn child through DSS in November 2010. They were on a path to adoption when the 21-month-old was suddenly taken from them and placed in a different foster home with no valid explanation Aug. 31….During ensuing discussions, it was revealed that the child had been removed from the Buchanans’ home in part because they are white, and the child is biracial. After Aug. 31, the child was moved to the home of a biracial foster couple, according to the Gaston County official.”

Sunday sampler

Today’s front pages have some wonderful stories that have nothing to do with the presidential election. It’s a good day.

Raleigh— The N&O continues its exceptional work examining how the athletic/academic scandal at one of the nation’s best public universities could have occurred. It is not a pretty picture.






Greensboro — In the back of their minds, many parents fear that their young children might get inappropriate contact by authority figures. The News & Record tells just such a story and what one father did about it. It gets messy and the costs on both sides are high.No Lifetime movie pat ending on this one.





Charlotte — One night on The Daily Show, NBC’s Brian Williams said that there were not 10 battleground states; there were 10 battleground counties. A few weeks later, I met an NBC political analyst and I asked him whether one of those was in North Carolina. He said that they considered the Triangle as one. (I know, it’s three counties.) Anyway, the Observer identifies Watauga County as  bellwether, and it explains why.





Gaston — Last week I criticized the Gazette for its front page ad promotion. This week I praise it for a story about a returning Marine, who survived a vicious bomb explosion while on duty in Afghanistan. The first paragraph of the story drove me to read the whole thing: “The words written in ink on U.S. Marine Cpl. Jeffrey Kessler’s arm read like something from a vacationing tourist’s T-shirt: ‘I had a blast in Afghanistan.’”

Front pages courtesy of the Newseum.

Sunday sampler, campaign edition

Virtually every front page in the state features a post-Republican National Convention story or a preview of the Democratic National Convention. Some, such as Wilmington, have them both. Those stories have effectively sucked everything else out of the news agenda this Sunday. Evidence of A1 enterprise outside of politics is slim. So today will be the campaign edition.

Charlotte — The newspaper of the DNC host city is filled with stories about the convention and is doing its usual bang-up job.

Asheville — The Citizen-Times puts some local faces on part of the Republican Party platform.

Winston-Salem — The Journal puts some faces on the local delegates to the DNC. So does the Star News in Wilmington.

Raleigh — The N&O discusses issues before the middle class.

Gaston — The Gazette provides a DNC guide for dummies, although I don’t think it means to call its readers that.

Sunday sampler

Maybe it is that summer vacation is winding down for newsrooms. Maybe it is that it’s a rainy Sunday morning for me. Maybe it is a burst of creativity. Maybe it is simply serendipity. Whatever the reason, the front pages of N.C. newspapers are filled with interesting, enterprising surprises this morning.

Asheville— I always watch with bemusement as people and politicians demand results but refuse to fund programs to get them. The Citizen-Times details the case overload at the State Crime Lab. “A big increase in evidence submitted for testing, less time to do the analysis and no increase in the number of lab workers has created the longer wait times, Joseph R. John Sr. said in a recent interview….The issues have made their way into Western North Carolina courtrooms, where DWI cases are being continued while prosecutors wait for test results, raising the risk drunken drivers could return to the road before going in front of a judge.

Charlotte — How many times have we heard city leaders and economic developers talk about the millions of dollars that conventions bring to their cities? (If you’re in the newspaper business, a lot.) With the Democratic National Convention coming to town, the Observer takes a look. “The Charlotte Convention Center has cost taxpayers as much as $30 million annually for construction debt, operating losses and incentives worth of hundreds of thousands of dollars to win business. The promised payback from the investment hasn’t materialized. Meanwhile, Charlotte residents pick up much of the tab: Most Convention Center funding comes from a countywide 1 percent tax on restaurant and bar bills – a majority of which is paid by Mecklenburg County residents who dine out.”

Salisbury — Here’s a headline for you: Gangs are in elementary schools, the Post reports. Welcome back class of 2020!
Raleigh — The N&O starts a three-part series on cheating in the business world, although in this case cheating means breaking the law. “Some of the other bidders were subcontracting their labor needs to middlemen who called their workers independent contractors – or treated them like ghosts, paid under the table and never acknowledged….Those in the construction industry say the scheme is now prevalent across the trades. A News & Observer review of state Industrial Commission decisions, in which arbitrators sort through workers’ compensation claims, shows the practice is common and has penetrated other industries. The cost is huge in unpaid medical bills for injured workers, uncollected business and personal taxes, and payments not made to a depleted state unemployment reserve.”
Greensboro — The N&R revisits a story it has been tracking for three years — the economic health of community banks. Short answer: after the dark days of the recession, they are getting better…but at a cost to consumers.
Gastonia — The Gazette has a surprise on its front page, but it’s not a welcome one. Across the top of the front page — running probably three inches deep and including the nameplate of the paper — is an ad for Covergirl lipstick. Actually it’s a promo to Parade, which has an ad for the lipstick, but this may as well be an ad. It reads, “$5 off Covergirl lip products.” I’ve come to terms with advertising on the front page, but across the top including the newspapers name? A little too much for my tastes. (The link is from the Newseum and will be broken by Monday so look quickly.)

Sunday Sampler

With last week’s all-Father’s-Day-all-the-time front pages, I took a break. They were all fine, but nothing special worth noting. Back at it now with some good stuff from the state’s front pages.

Charlotte — The Observer looked at the salaries at the state’s 50 top publicly traded companies and concluded: Some of North Carolina’s biggest companies gave their CEOs higher pay last year even as their shareholders saw lower returns. (Raleigh ran the same story.) My thought? Ten mugshots of the CEOS on the front — it’s an all-middle-aged-white-male club.

Asheville — The Citizen-Times stripped a good piece on the AIDS epidemic across the top of its front page. In case we have forgotten about the tragedy of AIDS: The truth is that North Carolina is one of about 10 Southern states experiencing a crisis that has earned the Southeast a reputation as “ground zero” for HIV/AIDS rates in the United States.

Winston-Salem & Gastonia — Both the Journal and the Gaston Gazette have reaction stories from the immigrant community to President Obama’s announcement last week. Good timely pieces with plenty of voices.

Fayetteville — The Observer continues its series on the war with its reporter and photographer writing about the country’s efforts in Afghanistan. As I have said before, this is some powerful journalism.