Support for the N&O’s Dan Kane: Keep at it

I have admired Dan Kane’s work in the N&O on the UNC athletic-now-academic scandal for a while. It has shown the N&O’s typical aggressiveness, tenacity and fearlessness. Not surprisingly, others aren’t so kind. Or, rather, Julius Peppers’ agent, Carl Carey Jr., isn’t.

Steve Riley, Dan’s editor at the N&O, explains the background. Basically, it has to do with linking a negative site to Dan’s name when someone does a Google search. Classy. On the other hand, most journalists don’t mind being trashed by a news subject; it often means their reporting has hit home.

Steve: I’m Dan’s editor, and I can tell you that I’ve never seen a more dogged and determined reporter. But I’ve also not seen one any more dedicated to being fair and placing things in their proper context. He will keep reporting this story, regardless of the web site assembled in his honor.

Sunday sampler

Americans woke up to the news on Saturday morning that Mitt Romney had selected Paul Ryan as his VP choice. They woke up to that news again Sunday morning when their newspapers led their front pages with it. But there are still some good enterprising surprises on the state’s front pages that make them well worth 75 cents.

Raleigh— As a teenager in Raleigh, I was well aware of the presence of Dorothea Dix Hospital, which treated the mentally ill. It’s closing now, and expert fear the closing opens a hole in the state’s safety net even wider. The N&O explains. The remaining Dix patients are being transferred to Central Regional Hospital in Butner, a new facility that critics say doesn’t have nearly enough beds to treat those with the most severe mental illnesses.

Asheville — The Citizen-Times continues to dig into the case of the former Henderson County sheriff, whose “inappropriate behavior while in office and on the job cost Henderson County’s insurance company $90,000 in a payment to a female deputy who had threatened legal action.”
Wilmington — The Star-News tells a riveting story — it starts slowly but give it a chance — of a man whose own family didn’t know he was a POW in WWII. They knew he was a hero — they had seen his medals — but not that he had been in an enemy prison. “We’re talking about over 60 years this man kept this to himself.”
CharlotteThe Observer has a nice piece on the best and the worst of the Olympics. Make sure you read to the end so you can read about his award for “Best Heart.”
Greensboro, Charlotte, Raleigh — Just for fun, it is worth noting that the News & Record, the Observer and the N&O all have local reaction stories on the selection of Rep. Ryan. The headlines are interesting in what they say. Greensboro: “Local GOP happy with Ryan.” Raleigh: “Ryan pick energizes Republicans, Democrats in North Carolina.” Charlotte: “Paul Ryan draws mixed reviews in N.C.”

Sunday sampler

For the first time in weeks, the state’s Sunday front pages didn’t have a sameness about them. The consequence? More than usual enterprising and surprising stories.

Asheville — A year ago, the police chief retired after problems appeared in the handling of criminal evidence at the department. Apparently, problems were worse than the appeared. The Citizen-Times describes the problems and remedies as best it can, given that no one wants to be helpful. Thank you, state public records laws.

Burlington — The Times-News revisits a 33-year-old murder case that is still unsolved. What makes this even more compelling is the detail in the telling. Sad story.

Raleigh — The N&O writes about Duke University researchers that are studying blast-induced traumatic brain injuries. As with the Times-News, the writer makes the topic come alive. The beginning, about the execution of deserters in WWI, draws you right in.

Wilmington — In the comments, I’m told to check the Star-News story about yellow fever 150 years ago. Through disease and departure, it decimated the city. One helluva story well-told.

What’d I miss?

Sunday sampler

In case you didn’t know that Michael Phelps lost his first race Saturday — an event that happened early in the day — front pages of Sunday newspapers told you. Fortunately, there were some interesting surprises on the state’s front pages, too.

Greensboro — The News & Record continues its strong reporting on the Janet Danahey clemency request. Danahey set a fire that killed four people 10 years ago. Not surprisingly, the details of the crime described in the request of the governor filed by her attorneys differ from those told by criminal and arson investigators.

Raleigh — The News & Observer continues its strong reporting on the UNC academic scandal. I suppose it says what everyone already knows: there are students and then there are athletes who are students.

Asheville — The Citizen-Times revisits the death of a fire department captain a year later. He died fighting an arson fire, and his killer — arson deaths are considered homicides — hasn’t been caught. His story — and that of his widow — is compelling.

Sunday sampler

As would be expected, many of the state’s papers displayed stories about the Aurora shootings on their front pages. But many also featured interesting stories about their communities and the state that only newspapers can do well.

Burlington — Law enforcement officers find “$842,710 in cash, 9390 rounds of assorted ammunition, one 100-round AR15/M16 magazine, six 9 mm magazines, six Colt .38 super magazines, seven AR15/M16 magazines, one pad lock, one Food Saver sealer, one digital scale, one expandable file folder with paper contents and one Coleman cooler” in a storage unit. Wanna claim it?

Raleigh — The News & Observer has a write-through on the scandal involving how a District Court dealt with DWI cases. “’This has been going on for years,’ said Debbie Jones, an assistant secretary with the state Division of Motor Vehicles. ‘It’s statewide.’” Sounds to me like an invitation to other newspapers to check the courts in their areas.

Raleigh — The N&O isn’t finished, either. The paper gives a detailed account of the political manueverings around where the state’s economy is going and whose fault it is that it’s not going better. It also answers my question about how the state can be rated as business friendly by national surveys at the same time that Republicans and business leaders complain about business-stifling regulations.

Greensboro — The News & Record examines a 10-year-old arson/murder case in which four people died and one is serving a life sentence in prison. It’s a powerful story of crime, punishment, retribution and redemption.

Fayetteville — The Observer tells the story of Jubilee House, a shelter for homeless women veterans that was opened with much acclaim from “Extreme Makeover” and Michelle Obama. Not smooth sailing, though. It failed a Veterans Affairs inspection and has struggled ever since.

Did I miss any others? (I’m sure I did.) Leave suggestions in the comments.

Sunday sampler

I was surprised this morning by the number of newspapers that published previews of Tuesday’s runoff election on their front pages. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But it’s predictable and I’m looking for unpredictable and interesting here.

Fayetteville — The Observer consistently nails it on Sunday, and this week is no exception. The paper digs deeper into a murder-suicide involving a lieutenant colonel and an enlisted man facing court martial. It’s a sad case and writers Greg Barnes and Drew Brooks do one helluva job telling it.

Greenville — Continuing on today’s mini-theme of death, the Daily Reflector has a strong second-day package on a family murder-attempted suicide. I include it here because writer pulled together two stories on the incident on deadline, both helpful in understanding what happened.

Charlotte — The Observer has been running a series of stories by Elizabeth Leland in its runup to the Democratic National Convention called Tales of the South. In them she examines some of our quirks, fancies and traditions. They’re all delightful, as they are being told by one of the best storytellers in the newspaper business.

Raleigh — I just like the lead photo on the front page of the News & Observer.

As always, if you see something on a front page that deserves attention, shoot me a message or add it in the comments.


Sunday Sampler

I’m pleased that today’s front pages aren’t filled with “beat the heat” photos and stories! (I and thousands of other readers knew it was hot yesterday.) And that absence provided room for these good stories from some of the state’s front pages.

Winston-Salem — The Journal revisits resegregation and its effects in Forsyth County schools, reminding me how sad it is that we’re still having this discussion 40 years later. It’s a good study for every paper to do. (The paper determined that Winston is the state’s most segregated major population center.)

Shelby — I can’t get the Star’s site to load, but the paper’s front page has an interesting piece on teen drug use in Cleveland County. It’s well above the national average. Seems as if people, including kids, think marijuana use is no big deal.

Greensboro — The N&R has a tragic tale of the death of an Eden 5-month-old who was apparently hit in the head hard enough to kill him. Now the investigation is on to figure out who did it.

Raleigh — The N&O updates us on Scotty McCreery. Yes, the American Idol. It’s a good, fun piece about Garner’s latest star and how he’s making it. Singing star, yes. But he’s N.C. State freshman in two months.

Now, go outside and see how hot it is so you’ll know it first hand.

Sunday sampler

High school graduations dominate the front pages of Sunday papers today. But some of the papers had stories of wonderful surprise.

Fayetteville — The Observer has its reporter and photographer in Afghanistan, writing about the ongoing — and barely noticed by many Americans — war.

Asheville — It’s always interesting to me how cities can want to ban a business and have trouble doing it, but that is what’s happening with the video sweepstakes industry.

Raleigh — Can’t read well by the third grade? Repeat the grade. That’s the idea behind a bill making its way through the legislature.

Greensboro — Victory Junction was a great idea and is a great program. But it has troubles, as outlined by Taft Wireback of the News & Record.

Sunday sampler

My friends at the News & Observer have been busy. Some great stories from the front pages of North Carolina’s Sunday papers.

Legislators— From the N&O. How our elected officials and those who influence them spend their off hours. It’s not pretty. A legislator in a bow tie spots a young woman in a sundress and kisses her on the cheek. A young legislative aide with a bare midriff cradles a beer and tilts her head back to laugh at something a legislator said. A male lobbyist wanders by just in time to hear the punch line. Nearby, legislative aides whisper about peers rumored to be sleeping with legislators and lobbyists.

Business — From the N&O. A tax break for businesses that will cost the state $336 million a year. So the break will go to roughly 460,000 business owners of all sorts, including equity partners in law firms, doctors and dentists with thriving practices, even lobbyists who patrol the legislature. It also includes some state lawmakers who are business owners.State & Carolina— From the N&O. A comparison of how the UNC Board of Governors handled the Valvano scandal of the 1980s and the Butch Davis scandal of the 2000s. It doesn’t make Wolfpack nation happy.Elections— From the Charlotte Observer. Want to see a waste of public money? Try the primary runoff system. We have 15 of them and they will cost between $7 million and $8 million.

Public salaries — The Asheville Citizen has a nice juxtaposition on its front page in stories about public salaries. Here are the headlines. “Longtime county managers case in” and “Police, fire pay lower in Asheville.”

Sunday sampler

Some great journalism on the front pages of the state’s newspapers this morning.

The News & Observer and the Charlotte Observer begins what promises to be a compelling — and shocking — five-part series on how much money hospitals are making. Here are just two of the bullet points:

* They’ve made their money largely from employer-sponsored health insurance, often inflating prices on drugs and procedures – sometimes to three, four or 10 times over costs. North Carolina hospital costs are more than 10 percent higher than the national average for Aetna, said Jarvis Leigh, a network vice president.

* They’ve hiked their fees each year, leaving many patients with crippling debt. Some hospitals have sued thousands of patients, while others have turned to collection agencies to pursue debtors.

Fayetteville Observer — The paper always pays close attention to the No. 1 industry in town — the military. Right now, it is paying close attention to complaints that the Army isn’t taking care of its own. Good stuff.

Burlington Times-News and the Hickory Daily Record – Stories focusing on the pros and cons of the marriage amendment — plus a FAQs — dominate the front pages. It’s the hottest issue on the primary ballot and deserving of such coverage.