Where the reporters have gone

When I left the News & Record last December, we had fewer reporters than anytime since at least the 1970s. Maybe earlier than that.

Madison Taylor, editor of the Times-News in Burlington, accurately describes what has happened to reporters in his post, “Where have the reporters gone.”

You could see it Tuesday at the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office when a press conference scheduled a day in advance to discuss new evidence in a cold case drew one print reporter — us. Only one TV station sent one of its reporters. The rest simply sent videographers who would supply B-roll for a quick voiceover taken from a press release. Not very long ago the Times-News would’ve been joined at such a press conference by the Greensboro News and Record the Durham Herald and possibly the Raleigh News and Observer. And every TV station would have a camera crew and a reporter. Might’ve even done a live satellite feed on site in Graham.

I, too, mourn the loss of reporters covering a community. Still, these days, the value of reporters from Greensboro, Durham and Raleigh covering a news conference in Burlington is dubious. As a Greensboro resident and News & Record reader, I don’t feel any loss not reading about that new evidence in my paper.

But I understand his point. The more reporters covering a community, the better. Yet, I must sadly note that, despite the decline in reporting strength, the collective news media has enough reporters to staff the Edwards trial as the jury deliberates. I don’t know how many reporters and photojournalists are twiddling their thumbs waiting. I am sure, though, that many of their readers and viewers would just as soon see their talents used in some other enterprising way.

(Photo credit: Charlotte Huffman, NBC-17)


Greensboro and the national media

To me, it’s unseemly when journalists complain to the public about how they’re being mistreated. The public — many of whom have much tougher jobs — has little sympathy for reporters. And, of course, people have even less sympathy for reporters who think they should get more special treatment that members of the public.

Case in point from Politico at the John Edwards trial: If reporters were expecting Greensboro’s federal court to roll out the welcome mat and perhaps even offer a little Southern hospitality, they came away disappointed Monday. Save for some safety measures taken outside around the TV trucks and the entrance, there appeared to have been no arrangements at all made for the media covering the high-profile case.

They had no assurance they’d get a seat in the courtroom. They couldn’t trade places with someone in line. They couldn’t have people “hold” their place in line so they could go to the bathroom. And the jurors got better treatment than they did!

At the end of his story in the News & Record, Robert Lopez tells of two national reporters who had trouble with the rules in the Greensboro courtroom.

During the morning session (Judge Catherine) Eagles said a reporter had tried to come in wearing “a wire” (cameras and transmitting devices are prohibited). ABC’s Bob Woodruff  stood and said it was him but that he didn’t know it was there.

OK. At least, I hope the visiting journalists are enjoying Elm Streets bars and restaurants.