Carrboro Commons

Do we have a future? the execs talk

Posted on July 29th, 2007 in Uncategorized by jock

by Jock Lauterer
Director
the Carolina Community Media Project
UNC-CH

July 27, 2007

Newspapers and their online sites need to leverage their assets and quit wringing their hands over their own death notices, said industry leaders Friday in Charlotte.

Speaking to the annual summer convention of the North Carolina Press Association, a blue-ribbon panel agreed it’s high
time for papers to go on the offensive and become proactive.

About 100 NC editors and publishers attended the session, titled, “Do we have a future? The execs talk,” moderated by Tom Curley, formerly Gannett’s guru on the startup of USA Today and currently president and CEO of Associated Press.

The panel of media industry all-stars included:

Reid Ashe, exec vice-presiddent and CEO, Media General Inc.
Scott Flanders, president/CEO, Freedom Communications
Max Heath, vice-president, Landmark Community Newspapers
Mary Jacobus, president/COO, New York Times Co. Regional Media Group
Jay Smith, president, Cox Newspapers Inc.
Howard Weaver, vice-president – news, the McClatchy Co.

Looking back at the Virginia Tech shooting…

Posted on July 27th, 2007 in Uncategorized by jock

by Jock Lauterer
director
the Carolina Community Media Project
Friday, July 27, 2007

I am writing this morning from the NCPA annual convention in Charlotte where today we are hearing from a panel addressing the coverage of the Va. Tech shootings of April 16, 2007.

Titled “Virginia Tech tragedy: New reporting for the new media world,” the session features “journalists and students under fire (who) reported their stories from he inside,” according to the program copy.

DTH General Manager Kevin Schwartz is moderating a panel that includes Bobby Bowman, who was the managing editor of the College Times of Va. Tech on the day of the shooting; Erin France, the lead Daily Tar Heel reporter from UNC-CH; Tim Reese, the DTH lead photographer on the scene; and Dave Scott of the AP.

Introducing the panel, Kevin said, “We weren’t prepared…you can never really be prepared,” citing the other major campus crime events at Chapel Hill over the last ten years: the shooting behind the Post Office and the Pit SUV incident.

NOT ENTIRELY PREPARED

Erin France, an English major from Hertford, recalled how it went down: Watching the TV in the DTH office, they began getting exctited. Erin remembered telling Joe Schwartz, DTH editor: “We should send someone up there! And we should send someone up there today!” exclaimed the 2007 UNC-CH graduate “…how can I get my car….a photographer….and get on the road as quickly as possible..?”

“I started screaming at Tim (photog)…” And a bunch of staffers piled in Erin’s car and took off. “I was screaming so much at everybody…” she recounted. They left Chapel Hill so quickly, the student-reporters departed without a debit card, any extra clothes, only a tank of gas and their youthful enthusiasm.

No other college paper made such an effort, said Schwartz, though some people criticized him, saying, “How could you let them go?” to which Kevin responded: “How could I NOT let them go?”

In which the Roadshow climbs up the mountain…

Posted on July 23rd, 2007 in Uncategorized by jock

Herein the latter-day Johnny Appleseed of community journalism, Jock Lauterer, takes journalism workshops to the 192 small newspapers of the Tar Heel state. Ride along “shotgun” as he takes a sentimental journey to his old stompin’ grounds in Sparta, visits “Mayberry” where there’s a new daily startup in Mount Airy, and teaches teachers in Wilkes County.

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

A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
Thursday, July 19, 2007

Heading north out of Elkin on 21, I found myself singing the old Elizabeth Cotton verse, from the song “Freight Train,” that goes something like this: “One more thing I’d like to see…watch that old Blue Ridge Mountain rise as I ride old Number Nine…”

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Outside the Sparta office he occupied 39 years ago, the latter-day Johnny Appleseed takes a moment to ponder.
Photo by “Ed” Nikon

For as you drive west in North Carolina, you will encounter what geologists call “the Blue Ridge Front” jutting abruptly out of the rolling Piedmont. Not as spectacular as the Front Range of the Rockies, the Tar Heel green ramparts are nonetheless a dramatic sight that never fails to stir me. When you top the Eastern Continental Divide at 2,972 at Roaring Gap, you know you’re “up the mountain.”

“Sparty,” as the old-timers used to say the name of their little (pop: 1,983) mountain hometown, was once my town too. Could it actually have been 39 years ago that I was the one-man show here at the eight-page, hot-type, buttugly weekly Alleghany News?

The paper office used to perch curiously at the edge of the courthouse lawn, like the watchdog it never was, in a 14×14 one-room brick building heated by a single, smelly kerosene stove.

Like the office, resources were few. Luckily, I had my own camera and typewriter. But I was happy, 23 and full of spit and vinegar, ready to try my hand at running what I supposed was “my” newspaper. Had I not been Big Man on Campus with the Daily Tar Heel? How difficult could it be to put out a little mountain weekly?

Man, was I in for rude awakening, courtesy of “Miz Anderson,” the legendary, curmudgeonly, autocratic, red-headed owner/publisher of “my” newspaper, which was printed at “her” newspaper, the Skyland Post, an hour across the mountains in West Jefferson.

We disagreed on practically everything there was to disagree on, from newspaper content to the size of the photographs, even to my hair, if you can imagine that — for at the time I did wear it shaggy.

That our relationship was volatile is to put it mildly. “Big Stella,” as she was known, and I held hollering matches across her newsroom every press day.

Within four months of coming to Sparta, I was already plotting my own start-up. In an odd sort of way, I probably owe my successful entrepreneurial newspaper career to the prickly old Miz Anderson.

So, what a place to return to…my first time in 39 years. What would I find?

SPARTA TODAY

I found a county and a town that were clearly growing, but not to the degree of the Boone area, where growth (read: big box stores along traffic-clogged five-lanes and gated golf communities with outrageously expensive homes clinging to cliffs) strikes me as completely out of control.

So far, little Alleghany seems to have avoided much of the mountain shtick that seems so pervasive elsewhere. So far, at least. One gets the sickly feeling that it’s just a matter of time until the developers discover Alleghany.

A MOUNTAIN MAN-EDITOR

And I found a thriving Alleghany News office smack dab on a bustling Main Street just across from the paper’s former location.

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Proudly holding the Alleghany News are, l-r, former editor Lauterer, intern Hannah Smith and editor Coby LaRue.
Photo by Lynne Worth

Then I found a true mountain man running the operation in the person of editor Coby LaRue, a native of the region.

After a stint as a techie in the early 90s in RTI, Coby realized where he belonged, and got himself back to the hills, where for 12 years he’s been the paper’s editor.

With only two other writers and a summer intern, Coby is your classic weekly editor, doing a little bit of everything from writing, taking pictures, doing the layouts (Quark on Macs), walking the paper through the production process, stripping in the negatives and getting the paper printed down in Wilkesboro, an hours drive “off the mountain,” as the locals say. He even admits to hassling the pressmen if the printing doesn’t suit him. Though he didn’t say it, I imagine Coby helps with the mailing too. I’d say he’s The Compleate Editor.

At home, he has a wife and two small children, a garden and chickens. When you talk to Coby LaRue, you get the definite impressive that here is a man who has found his calling in life.

Not that his bed is one of roses. With a wry grin, he said, “If you live long enough – and I live long enough – I’ll definitely make everybody in this town mad at least once.”

JUST THE THREE OF US

The Hubbards of the Wilkes Journal-Patriot down in Wilkesboro own the Alleghany News, a 4,800-circulation weekly covering the mountain county of 10,000 souls.

Today’s workshop included Coby’s delightful intern, a bright local kid named Hannah Smith who is also a rising sophomore at UNC-Chapel Hill (and coincidentally the daughter of one of my old Sparta pals from way back when!)

And since there were only the three of us, the session turned into a spirited conversation. I was touched with how eager and receptive both Coby and Hannah were to hear coaching suggestions about how to improve the writing, photography and lay-out in the paper.

I came away from Sparta reaffirmed that these free, on-site journalism workshops are valuable and that they are working. Though the results may be difficult to quantify, I believe Johnny Appleseed would approve.

A NEWSPAPER WAR IN MT. AIRY
Wednesday, July 17

What would Sheriff Andy Griffith think about the newspaper brawl going on in his old Mayberry?

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a newspaper war going on in Mount Airy, where the upstart Surry Messenger launched a five-day-a-week daily paper on July 9 in response to the Heartland group’s purchase of Mid-south Management of Spartanburg in mid-June.

Previously, MSM owned the community papers not just in Mount Airy, but also Elkin, Yadkinville, West Jefferson and Stokes County. All were sold as part of a package deal with Heartland Publications LLC of Conn., which if my hunch is right, did what any new profit-driven out-of-town chain does when they purchase new properties: they make cuts.

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Recent copies of the two Mount Airy dailies.
Jock Lauterer photo

Whatever happened, the result was that many folks from both the Mount Airy News and the Elkin Tribune said in effect: No Way, Jose. We’ll just start our own daggum newspaper. And on July 9, that’s exactly what they did.

THEY’LL NEED THOSE DEEP POCKETS

After securing financial backing of a local investor who is said to have deep pockets, they set up shop in a local shopping center and went about the adventurous business of creating what Publisher Michael Milligan claims is the first daily start-up in North Carolina in 40 years. (There have been several weekly start-ups in NC this year, including Carrboro and Fayetteville, but Milligan’s claim seems to be true, from all I can gather.)

And another thing the new paper’s leaders wanted me to know, the Messenger is an Investor-EMPLOYEE owned paper. That’s a different breed of cat, and accounts for the energy I witnessed at the Messenger office during my visit today.

The Messenger staff of 17 includes four staffers who had worked at Elkin and 13 who had worked at Mount Airy, including former Mount Airy News Publisher Michael Milligan, former Elkin Tribune Editor Rebel Good and former News Managing Editor Phil Goble.

The Messenger has a free home delivery circulation of 8,973, distributing mostly to northern Surry County for the time being. With about 80 rack locations, the Messenger’s circulation gets up to 10k daily. They are printed in High Point, an hour’s drive away.

At the Messenger, Milligan is publisher and Good is editor.

AND IT GETS MESSY

To make matters nastier, Heartland has sued the new paper, accusing them of “raiding” (their word) their staff of key personnel, circulation records and computer passwords. I’m not going to stick my foot in this legal donnybrook. (For more information on the lawsuit, check out the work of Sherry Youngquist of the Winston-Salem Journal who has done some fine reporting on this story.) My job is to try and help ALL community newspapers of this state.

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The ol’ perfesser visits with Meghan Cooke, the Mount Airy News’ star intern, at a local eatery named Goober’s.
Photo by “Ed” Nikon

That’s what I was trying to do last month when I phoned the new editor of the Elkin Tribune, and when I began chatting about the change in ownership, he abruptly hung up on me.

In my publisher’s playbook, that is an unforgivable sin. You don’t hang up on people no matter what. So excuse me if I’m not feeling very charitable towards Heartland Publications LLC right now.

A LONG HISTORY

And in the interest of full disclosure, I’ve had a decades long relationship with many of the folks at the old News and Tribune, several of whom have been longtime supporters of the Community Media Project and this Roadshow. Milligan and then Managing Editor Phil Goble hosted my Roadshow visit to the News a couple of summers ago, and Rebel Good, UNC-CH class of ‘69, had been at the Elkin Tribune for 29 years, since 1978!

I was so fond of Milligan and Goble that I placed one of my most outstanding community journalism students, Meghan Cooke, at the News for an internship there this summer, never suspecting that the rising junior from King might get caught up in the teeth of this newspaper slugfest.

Visiting and counseling with Meghan today, I was relieved to hear her say that the experience, though harrowing, has been valuable. With the News staff down to a skeleton crew, her workload (and number of clips) has increased tremendously, making her all but indispensable to the News.

IN ALL FAIRNESS

While I was in Mt. Airy, I paid a visit to the new News office where I was greeted courteously by Heartland’s new publisher, Gary Lawrence, who was kind enough to give me some of his time. Sitting in his office decorated with University of Alabama sports mementoes and memorabilia, we had a frank talk about the summer’s transition, and I left the News feeling a little better about Heartland.

MEANWHILE ACROSS TOWN…

At the busy office of the Messenger, I watched an impromptu newsroom jam session where publisher Milligan delivered a stirring pep talk. “We’re on the cutting edge!” he told his staff with the vigor of a high school football coach dishing out a halftime locker-room pep talk.

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The staff of the new Surry Messenger gathers outside their office in Mount Airy for a group portrait.
Jock Lauterer photo

If Milligan is the high-energy football coach, then Good is the wise old civics teacher. Their chemistry works. In fact, the chemistry of the Messenger newsroom was palpable – the place looking trendy with a dozen white Mac desktops studded about the one wide-open room, an industrial work-in-progress atmosphere about the place supplied by wires dangling from an unfinished ceiling, and reporters rushing here and there, answering phones, hollering at each other – the complete opposite of my morning’s visit to the other paper, which I had found eerily quiet and with no sense of urgency. (On balance, News publisher Lawrence assures me that if I came back around 11 p.m. I’d get a “somewhat different take” and that his place would be hopping too.)

And the Messenger is on the cutting edge. In a country where most all dailies are distributed by paid subscription, starting up a daily and offering it for free is a bold and risky business model.
But if anybody can make it work, these folks can.

Their online edition should be up and working some time in late July. Go to www.surrymessenger.com

(For this segment, sources included personal interviews, a 7/17/07 report in the Winston-Salem Journal by reporter Sherry Youngquist, and an un-bylined story in the 7/17/07 Mount Airy News.)

TEACHING TEACHERS
Wilkesboro, July 17

Today I drove to the Brushy Mountains of Wilkes County to talk to a bunch of middle school teachers about how to help kids see.

The brainchild of Sandy Cook, our school’s Newspapers in Education guru, this was the third such workshop I’ve helped her with in the last two summers. Last year, when I helped with similar workshops in Moravian Falls and Asheville, I was impressed with the dedication of these public school teachers.

Today was no different; about 20 teachers from Burke, Wilkes, Forsyth and Surry counties who were eager to learn how to use simple point-and-shoot photography to help kids grasp the basic vocabulary of visual communications.

I told them I wished that years ago I had had teachers who even knew a shred about different learning styles — for I’m a classic visual learner. Math? Forget it! But put the equation into a picture form – as in geometry — and I see the problem instantly.

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Western North Carolina teachers gather in Wilkesboro for a visual literacy session.
Photo by Sandy Cook

So I showed these teachers examples of great photography: the masters and the Pulitzers. And I showed them photo projects their students could take on to help them express themselves visually and to hone their visual communications skills.

Along the way I hope I told them about the nobility and importance of our craft/art/profession.

“We’re never not teaching,” a wise old math teacher once told a faculty meeting years ago at Brevard College.

Repeat: “We’re never not teaching.” Forget the double-negative. There’s power in that mantra. It means: your open office door sends a message to students; your office door shut tight sends another.

As I think back to my great teacher/mentor/editors who helped shape me, they had a common trait: that they were always teaching, and that their “doors,” so to speak, were always open. Open to the wandering kid in search of a paper clip, a word of advice, a life.

And I told these teachers about Martha Gill, the English teacher and journalism advisor at Chapel Hill High School who first picked me out of the crowd and noticed me for who I really was.

Upon spying my humble scrapbook of snapshots one afternoon during a journalism club meeting, Mrs. Gill chirped brightly, “Why Jock, you’re a photographer!” — thus, with a single sentence, sending me on my lifelong career path.

Would that I could so launch young lives on their true trajectories.

Today as I led that session with these teachers, I could see in their faces the same unselfish passion to make a difference in some kid’s life. And today I was again proud to be a teacher.

TO THERE AND BACK

And thus ends the 7th Annual Johnny Appleseed, Willie Nelson, Charles Kuralt, James Taylor, Jack Kerouac, Johnny Cash, ‘Possum-Dodgin’ Summer Community Journalism Roadshow.

In three months the Roadshow workshops have reached 17 communities and/or newspapers across North Carolina:

Bryson City, the Smoky Mountain Times
Warrenton, the Warren Record
Littleton, the Lake Gaston Gazette
Burgaw, the Pender Post
Denton, the Denton Orator
Siler City/Pittsboro, the Chatham News and Record
Kenly, the Kenly News
Selma, the Selma News
Wilson’s Mills, the Wilson’s Mills News
Pine Level, the Pine Level News
Southern Pines, the Pilot (the U.S. Women’s Open golf championship)
Wilkesboro, Newspapers in Education, a teachers’ workshop for area public school teachers
Mount Airy, the Mount Airy News and the Surry Messenger
Sparta, the Alleghany News

ONWARD AND UPWARD

On my office back in Chapel Hill wall hangs a state map that now has 125 colored pins from Murphy to Manteo, each one pinpointing a community paper that the Roadshow has reached since the summer of 2001.
Where will the road take us next summer? And what new literary or songwriting “road warrior” shall we add to the Roadshow hall of fame?

Any suggestions?

As Frasier used to say: “I’m listening.”

[email protected]

From Kenly and Pinehurst, the Roadshow rolls on…

Posted on July 15th, 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 he finds a jewel in Kenly and then spends a week back in the trenches as The Pilot of Southern Pines gears up and goes daily for the U.S.Women’s Open golf tournament in Pinehurst.

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

KENLY: ANOTHER BEST-KEPT SECRET

You’ve heard of the proverbial one-stoplight town. That would be Kenly, except that there’s a new red-light out there by 1-95. So I reckon they’ve hit the big-time now.

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The morning freigh train hoots through little Kenly.
Jock Lauterer photo

Still, little (pop. 1,784) Kenly in the eastern Johnston County, 30 miles from the hustle and bustle of Raleigh, retains its small-town feel — two stoplights or not.

One wonders when the explosive Johnston County sprawl will hit Kenly, on borrowed time for now. I bet the growth issues are already there, albeit muted compared to what’s coming down the pike, as it were.

I couldn’t help but like Kenly, where people waved at me – a rank stranger, as I drove through their town on this crystal clear July morning, washed free of the muggies by last night’s wave of thunderbumpers.

Typical to many Southern railroad towns, what little traffic there is comes to a dead stop when the CSX freight train comes hooting through, loudly slicing down the center of Kenly like a hot knife through butter.

Right there in the heart of downtown I find the charming antique office of the Kenly News– a scene to warm the heart of Norman Rockwell: a converted 19th century general store complete with creaking wooden floors, high ceilings, the glass storefront displaying an old typewriter and camera collection, and even a cast iron, pot-bellied coal stove in the back, left over from the general store days.

Yes, they have modern HVAC and computers. But the paper’s office is a delightful throwback – even to the tall double glass front doors with original door handle and the brass bell that announces each entering reader with a musical “Ding!”

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Staffers apply mailing labels by hand in the backshop of the Kenly News.
Jock Lauterer photo

Talk about reader access. No surveillance camera; no armed guard in the lobby (no lobby!); no keypad to the newsroom. When I walked in, before anyone recognized me, someone gave me a friendly “Hey!” Little wonder I felt so immediately at home at the Kenly News.

HYPERLOCAL
The husband and wife team of Rick and Karen Stewart own and publishes the News, Rick serving as editor and publisher, and Karen as co-publisher and office manager. If this is a “mom and pop” operation, it’s a good one.

The Stewarts were hyperlocal before there was such a word as hyperlocal.

Instead of putting out a countywide edition and having to go head-to-head with excellent community papers in Smithfield (the Herald) and Clayton (the News-Star), Stewart creates micro-editions for nearby small towns within his coverage area.

So in addition to the Kenly News and the neighboring Selma News (a one-woman show run by Kelly Lake, who does it ALL), his diverse staff also produces weeklies for Pine Level and Wilson’s Mills by making local fronts for both communities. The Kenly News’ second in command is News Editor Cami Jo Narron, who came to the paper as a graphic designer after taking classes at the local community college. Staff writer Jamie Hodges, who especially likes sports, came to the Kenly News from the Wilson paper. He’s workhorse; the week I was there Jamie had three out of the four front-page stories.

All four Stewart papers are printed by contract in Benson, where a press serves the printing needs of several area community papers that don’t own their own presses. (We did the same thing for years at my papers in Forest City and Marion before being able to buy and maintain an expensive newspaper press of our own.)

BIG DEALS IN SMALL PLACES

In small places, seemingly small news items have major impacts. Last week the Kenly News led with a story about a local veteran doctor leaving town for better opportunities elsewhere. But the town had attracted a new librarian, so there was cause to celebrate some. Down in Selma, the paper there was following an ugly dispute between local firefighters and town government, and back in Kenly I learned than an escaped emu, which was still at large, had terrorized kids attending a local vacation bible school.

Other than that, it felt like a quiet week in Kenly/Selma/Pine Level/Wilson’s Mills.

WHY FOLKS LIVE WHERE THEY LIVE

Driving through one of North Carolina’s many small towns like Kenly, you have to ask yourself: who lives here and why? No bright lights/big city, for sure. The local Siemens plant is shutting down and moving to Mexico. To live in Kenly is to work elsewhere I’m told – Selma, Smithfield, Wilson or Goldsboro. In other words, you have to want to live in Kenly.

Happily, for the Stewarts and other publishers of North Carolina community newspapers, many folks wouldn’t live anywhere else.

It’s the kind of place where, when asked to list briefly words that define their community, Kenly News staffers offered: community, family, school and church-oriented.

It’s the kind of place where before lunch, the newspaper staff says grace over the pizza.

It ain’t Chapel Hill, folks; it’s North Carolina.

A LITTLE JEWEL

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The Tobacco Farm Life Museum is one of Kenly’s bragging points.
Jock Lauterer photo

And another thing: my travels to small-town-N.C. defy the stereotypes of “sleepy towns nestling…”

Every town I go to invariably surprises me with some best-kept secret: the historic homes of Warrenton, the Old Threshers’ Reunion in Denton, the Yam Festival in Tabor City – and in Kenly’s case, the Tobacco Farm Life Museum.

Not a stone’s throw from downtown, an authentically restored tobacco farmstead rests tranquilly beneath the towering loblolly pines — complete with tobacco barn, homestead, outbuildings, farm equipment, working blacksmith’s shop, and most recently, a historic one-room schoolhouse. I am further impressed to learn that the Tobacco Farm Life Museum is the result of local initiative and local financial support. You go, Kenly! What a great place to bring kids to show them what rural North Carolina farm life used to looked like.

Next time you’re near Kenly, (exit 107 off I-95 with easy access), this is a must for history buffs. Check it out at
www.tobaccofarmlifemuseum.org

US OPEN WOMEN’S GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP REDUX

For an old newsie-turned-“perfesser,” nothing beats getting out of the classroom and into the newsroom.

When classes are over in May, I put Chapel Hill in the rear-view mirror as I hit the road, leading journalism workshops at community newspapers from Murphy to Manteo.

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Pilot staffers react as Publisher David Woronoff tells them that colleague Jim Dodson has been hospitalized. Happily, Dodson was back on the job within two days.
Jock Lauterer photo

Then, if I’m really lucky, I’ll find a community paper that needs a helping hand for some special project. The ol’ perfesser got a reality gut-check when he joined the fine staff of the Pilot of Southern Pines as they went daily once again for the U.S. Women’s Golf Championship at Pine Needles in Pinehurst earlier this month.

This was the brainchild of publisher David Woronoff who refuses to be intimidated by the national and international media presence in his county. His response to a major golfing event is to convert his tri-weekly into a daily for the duration of the tournament.

To pull this off, he enlists the help of several volunteers to help crank out the “US OPEN DAILY,” eight hefty tabloid morning editions that put the competition to shame.

I’ve joined The Pilot family for three of the five U.S. Opens held at Pinehurst: ’99, ’05 and again this summer.
What a treat. I get an insider’s view of a top-quality community newspaper doing some of the very best “relentlessly local” journalism around.

Pardon the vernacular, but as the expression goes: It don’t get no better than this.

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It was a pure joy to work with recent UNC-CH grad Erin France, who flat loves to write — and it shows.
Jock Lauterer photo

VIGNETTES THROUGH MY LENS

As I sat in the bustling media tent, in front of me the humongous media scoreboard stretched 60 feet across the room. Perhaps you’ve heard about the “Asian Invasion” of women golfers from mainly Korea. I’m counting: 10 Kims, six Parks and six Lees.

That still doesn’t get me off the hook for misidentifying Grace Park in Monday’s paper as “Grace Kim.” In the ol’ perfesser’s class back at UNC, such a factual error gets a kid an automatic 50.

Bad perfesser. BAD!

RIGHT THERE WITH THE BIG BOYS

I’m not sure how it came to be, but The Pilot crew had a front-row seat in the media tent where about 400 other media folk were massed — on our left, The N&O, and on our right, USA TODAY.

Not too shabby. Reminds me of Pilot publisher David Woronoff’s mantra: “We may be small-town, but we’ll never be small-time.”

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Golf photographer Joann Dost made this terrific image of Natalie Gilbus.
Cover courtesy of The Pilot

STAR WARS IS NOW
In the ’99 Open, Pilot photojournalists shot film and processed it at a one-hour place. In ’05, we’d gone digital and were able to send photos by email. Now by ’07, photo-technology has gotten even slicker. Photographer Joann Dost had a Star Wars camera that allowed her to dictate caption information into the back of her camera.

Can you imagine what media technology will be like in ’14?

We’ll see. I plan to be there!

NEW-FOUND RESPECT

Through seven days of grueling heat, sweat soaked through shirt, pants and photo vest, blisters on toes and plenty of SPF 48, the old bod did pretty well for all its 62 years. Only my dogs suffered. On my feet marching around the dusty eight miles of Pine Needles from 8-5 daily…who needed “exercise” after that? I needed NEW DOGS.

After shooting the US Women’s Open for The Pilot, I have a new respect for older workers who must stand or walk during their entire shift. Ouch!


OUR BUDS

One the best things about a great newsroom is great friends. I truly felt that David Woronoff had pulled together a bunch of folks who honestly liked being around each other – much less working together. Did we have fun? You betcha.

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Photographer Dean Parziale nailed this cover shot of In-Bee Park.
Cover courtesy of The Pilot

I’ll remember Lee Pace whose sportswriting sometimes resembled poetry…Brad King for his companionable nature… Gordon White for his wry sense of humor… photo editor Andie Rose for her grace under pressure… golf writing guru Jim Dodson who wouldn’t let a little thing like a gall bladder on the fritz keep him down…sports editor Hunter Chase who kept us all in stitches …veteran golf writer Howard Ward who keeps saying “this is my last US Open…” and then keeps coming back…”My reporter” and future Pulitzer-prize winner, Erin France…fellow photogs Dean Parziale and Joann Dost who did the really heavy lifting…veteran Pilot editor “back at the mole hole” and bud extraordinaire Steve Bouser… and finally Woronoff, who on the first day told us all gathered for our first staff meeting: “Stay loose and have fun!” And he also noted we were surrounded by major media outlets, but that he expected that we would administer the shoe leather to their nether regions.

Looking back at our work, I believe we did kick some___.

HEADING WEST

Next week the Roadshow heads west as I lead a visual communications workshop for middle school teachers in Wilkes County, then go to Mt. Airy to check out the brand-new Surry Messenger, an bodacious start-up, and finally I’ll be taking a sentimental journey to the little mountain town of Sparta and the Alleghany News where, fresh out of college many moons ago, I served as a green-as-grass editor of that one-man newspaper.