Slow news week

Don't expect a lot of blogging between now and 2006. You should all be be spending vacation (if you are fortunate enough to have one) with your loved ones anyway.

Here are a few interesting items from all around the county this slow news week:

  • The times they are a-changing. Once picketed by preachers and denied permits by the town, PHE is now the Hillsborough/Orange County Chamber of Commerce's "business of the year."
    - N&O: Naughty or nice? Shunned firm honored 
  • First porn (see above), now this. Is Hillsborough turning into Chapel Hill?
    - N&O: Pricey condos to top Hillsborough building

    Local real estate listings are featuring something never seen before in Hillsborough: $700,000 condos for sale.

    In a town where three-bedroom houses still go for $150,000, and bigger homes on an acre can be bought for less than $500,000, the condos may seem a bit pricey.

  • CHCCS breaks ground on still-nameless school in Carrboro.
    - Herald: New high school to take shape 
  • Enjoy it while you can.
    - N&O: Park free a few days in Chapel Hill 
  • This is my favorite: "I'm still not sure if I am more angry about the carjacking or the fact that Hardee's screwed up my lunch order yesterday."
    - Quotes from the victim's blog, Herald: Car stolen at gunpoint at Carr Mill...

    "I don't consider that to be a bad neighborhood by any means, and we were in a well-lit (if deserted) area... This was an opportunity crime, pure and simple -- the guy walked by, saw us in a running car, saw that no one was around, and figured he could get away with it pretty easily. A million other times, nothing happens in that same situation. I'm guessing that he was drunk or high.

    "I figure that we all have something rotten happen every so often, and this is mine, and I'm still not sure if I am more angry about the carjacking or the fact that Hardee's screwed up my lunch order yesterday... This whole experience has been a chance to reflect on what's really important in life, and a car just isn't one of those things."




I appeared in one of those about 8 years ago. The reporter asked me, I kid you not, "What do you like about Carrboro?"

At the time I thought, What a silly question...

An acquaintance of mine appeared in one of those recently. Totally lied about her age.


Maybe you know the answer to this question. Do journalism programs actually teach students about this kind of fluff bs?



I don't want to speak for the folks at the Herald. But I imagine one of the big reasons to have a man-on-the-street about such a "fluff" topic is that, well, people will read it.

Mind you, I'm a hard-news kind of guy. I'm the sort of person who wishes The N&O still had 10 legislative reporters and ran Under the Dome on the front page every day. But I recognize that today's newspapers readers often don't want that. In fact, many readers don't want news articles at all. They want easy-to-digest information about their communities. They want to see people like themselves in the paper. They want reading the paper to be as enjoyable as it is informative.

And what's more easy to read -- and features more local commoners -- than a man-on-the-street with a simple question behind it?

Mind you, I don't think that's the attitude at UNC's J-school. Around these parts, we still teach the basics -- public affairs journalism, ethics, mass media history, and courses that tailor to specific types of reporting (opinion writing, features writing, business writing, medical writing, and so forth). You leave this place with a pretty good desire to help bolster the Fourth Estate. You leave thinking that your work is going to really mean something.

Unfortunately, the real world doesn't work like that. Newspapers are businesses, too. And these days, pages full of hard news don't sell.



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