Raleigh N&O

Hurricane also reveals devastation of News & Observer journalists

Two decades of weathering the budgetary storm has taken its toll:

The last time a hurricane took direct aim at North Carolina, back in 1999, the Raleigh News & Observer mobilized most of the 250 people in its newsroom to cover the storm and its aftermath. For its extensive efforts, the N&O was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in breaking news the following year (it lost out to the Denver Post, which won for its reporting on the Columbine High School shootings).

As Hurricane Florence bears down on the Carolinas, the Raleigh newspaper is a shadow of what it was in 1999. As a result of the kind of downsizing and layoffs that have affected newspapers everywhere, its newsroom has shrunk from 250 journalists to just 65. Faced with steadily declining ad revenue, the paper has outsourced some of its most basic functions, such as copy editing and print design, to a sister newspaper.

I have come to realize over the last decade or so that efforts to come up with a working "business model" is simply the wrong way to approach this. The word "business" needs to be removed entirely, and replaced with something else, and that something else just might be "philanthropy." We spends billions every year in philanthropic dollars on physical health issues, but improving our intellectual health would help us achieve progress across the board. What we don't need is naive cheerleading from corporate leaders:

N&O loses libel suit to the tune of $9 million

Still waiting on the GOP to whine about tort reform:

The arguments on punitive damages were held Wednesday morning as a trial-within-a-trial. As a guide to their deliberations, the jurors were told by Judge Shirley that as of Aug. 28, The News & Observer Publishing Co. had a net worth of $248.2 million.

During the arguments on punitive damages, Johnson urged the jurors to send a strong message to the newspaper. “Do they get that? Do they understand?” Johnson said. “It’s almost like they consider Beth collateral damage in a war. When you bomb a village, people get killed, but it’s not our problem.”

Before any readers arrive at the conclusion the N&O got its "just desserts" for reckless reporting, keep in mind their series on the SBI revealed some serious flaws in their evidence gathering and analysis. Flaws that contributed to the incarceration and even execution of innocent people. The gathering of information, especially when interviewing sources (who may or may not be prejudiced), is an extremely difficult task. And legally precarious, if those sources later recant, or claim the item wasn't discussed. Not saying that's what happened in *this* case, but I find it hard to believe Locke would intentionally misquote somebody, knowing that individual would read those words when published a few days later. It's not logical. Then again, human beings are very often not logical.

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