Carrboro Commons

Dear Carrboro, Fall Semester 2006

Posted on December 3rd, 2006 in Editorials/columns by jock

By Jock Lauterer
Adviser, Carrboro Commons

“Who am I and what am I doing here?”

If you’re old enough, you’ll remember the words of Ross Perot’s 1992 politically unknown running mate, U.S. Navy (ret.) Admiral James Stockdale, as he attempted to introduce himself to the American public during the televised debates of ’92. (Some of you will also recall that Stockdale and his goofy line was immortalized by the late Phil Hartman and Dana Carvey on “Saturday Night Live.”)

So who are WE? And what are we doing here?

As we launch the Carrboro Commons today, we too feel the need for an introduction — sort of a 5W’s on us: the who, what, why, where, when and how.

In short, we are a new newspaper blog for this special place. Whether you call it “the Paris of the Piedmont,” “The People’s Republic of Carrboro,” “Karmaboro,” or just plain old Carrboro, if you’re a resident, you know that Carrboro is unique. And with apologies to Stephen Colbert, compared to Chapel Hill, we think Carrboro is “uniquer.”

That’s why we believe that Carrboro is an under-served media population. From everything Carrboro folk are telling us, this is a town that needs, wants and deserves a quality news, feature and A&E source. Jazz bassist Christian McBride talks about being “rooted in the groove,” and that could describe our two-fold mission, to serve the community and to catch that Carrboro groove.
And who is the “us?” We are a class of 14 community journalism students at the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication, led by your faithful columnist, Jock Lauterer, a former small-town weekly and daily editor-publisher and now lecturer at the University. I also direct the Carolina Community Media Project, dedicated to energizing and empowering the state’s 192 community papers. My book titles include the textbook and field guide, “Community Journalism,” which is sub-titled RELENTLESSLY LOCAL.

Thanks to Charles Kuralt for that wonderful expression, for that’s exactly what the Carrboro Commons aims to be: not just all-local, but relentlessly local. It means we will celebrate Carrboro by covering not just the big stories, but the small miracles of everyday life as well.

As to the “what,” the Carrboro Commons will be a bi-weekly, interactive “e-zine” or Web newspaper, a “lab newspaper,” if you will, (meaning that this news and information site is an experiential learning project and an integral part of the required classwork for JOMC 459 Community Journalism.) What you are looking at today is our prototype edition — the result of a flash of inspiration in class earlier this fall, days of brainstorming, many sleepless nights, more of what the Buddhists call “auspicious coincidences,” and a nearly vertical learning curve for all of us — plus a lot just plain old-fashioned journalism shoe-leather.

Our strengths include our youth and experience (the students’ youth, my experience), as well as our enthusiasm for this project and the conviction of the rightness of the place and timing. Our main weakness is that none of the students writing for the Commons are from Carrboro. (I myself, a Chapel Hill native now living three miles west of the town limits in “Greater Carrboro,” am the closest thing we’ve got to a real local yokel.) So it would be presumptuous of us to think that we can write about this complex and wonderful town with any authority, depth and native understanding.

But what better way to teach “community” than by creating a media project that demands that we immerse ourselves in the history, culture, geography, zeitgeist and the veritable tossed salad of diversity that makes Carrboro so, well, COOL!

Another dynamic common to any collegiate project: We are tethered to a semester schedule. So while this premier edition will be the capstone experience for this fall’s class, the Carrboro Commons won’t be refreshed until the spring 2007 semester begins and another class, and thus a new staff, can crank out the second edition in mid-January.

But once the spring semester commences, the Commons will be up and out there every other week, twice-monthly or bi-weekly. In the meantime, we invite you to read, look, think and enjoy. Then brainstorm along with us and tell us not only what you think, but how you’d like to plug in and help. Contact me at [email protected] or 962-6421, or our co-managing editors, Carrie Crespo at [email protected], and Ashley Christian at [email protected]
— Relentlessly Carrboro

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Jock Lauterer

2 Responses to 'Dear Carrboro, Fall Semester 2006'

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  1. jock said,

    on December 4th, 2006 at 10:05 pm

    Dear Carrboro, part two:
    A special shout-out to student-designer Elsa Hasenzahl for coming up with our Carrboro Commons logo, or “flag,” as it’s called in the biz.
    The entire staff of “Commoners” thought the design caught the Carrboro groove, and so did I!
    – Jock

  2. on December 7th, 2006 at 12:40 pm

    [...] Dear Carrboro…Staff of Carrboro CommonsIt?s CarrboroA new year, a new school – Getting ready for Carrboro High [...]

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