Carrboro Commons

Dispatches from the road…

Posted on June 12th, 2007 in Uncategorized by jock

In which roving journalism “perfesser” Jock Lauterer takes journalism workshops to the 192 small newspapers of the Tar Heel state. Herein we find ourselves Down East in Pender County where a Carolina man is running the Pender Post.

by Jock Lauterer
Director,The Carolina Community Media Project
School of Journalism and Mass Communication, UNC-CH

THE PENDER POST, BURGAW

June 12, 2007

penderpost2.jpg

Mike Todd, left, and the staff of the Pender Post in Burgaw.
Photo by Jock Lauterer

You wouldn’t believe that little Burgaw would be able to support two newspapers, but somehow, the county seat (pop. 3,700) of Pender County does just that.

And most fascinating, both are owned indy weeklies owned by nearby families who have newspaper interests in neighboring counties Down East. The older of the two, the Pender Chronicle, dates all the way back to 1896 and is owned by the Oswald family of Wallace up in Duplin County. I did a Roadshow workshop there in ’04, and so I owed a visit to the newer paper, the upstart (1971) Pender Post.

A VERTICAL LEARNING CURVE

The Post is run by perhaps the youngest newspaper editor in the state, 26-year-old Mike Todd. He was hired last October by Les and Becky High of Whiteville News Reporter fame. The couple purchased the paper last fall, rescuing it from dire straits and taking a risk on one of my former students. Endearingly, Mike readily admits to his green-as-grass editorial status.

But Mike is not only smart as a whip; he’s local, and he cares. He’s is the quintessential hometown kid who went off to the big university and then came back home to make a difference.

So he’s making a go of the Post, with many sleepless nights and “going wide open,” he says, producing a colorful, well-written, fearless and nicely laid out 20-24 page weekly. A staff of about six “does about 40 things each,” he says with a rueful grin.

Being a Carolina man, Mike deserved not just any “head-bopper” – but one of those “Heely-Boppers” made in honor of the ’82 national basketball championship, donated to the Roadshow by the good folks at Balloons and Tunes of Carrboro.