Friday, June 13, 2008

News from “inside” the Raleigh N&O

In Spring 2006 the Raleigh News & Observer led the Duke lacrosse media witch hunt, trashing the students of the lacrosse team as racists and drunkards, and promulgating the “wall of silence” lie as it told readers about the “ordeal” of the “frightened young mother” which ended finally in “sexual violence.”

The N&O did all that even before Nifong began speaking publicly about what was a coordinated frame-up attempt in which the N&O used Nifong as an anonymous source.

The N&O hasn’t admitted that to this day, even as it’s reported the State Bar’s disbarment of Nifong and his later jailing for lying to the court about the case.
With that as background, we read the following excerpts from an N&O news competitor, WRAL. I comment below the star line.

WRAL begins - - -

The News & Observer is preparing to lay off about 10 percent of its newsroom staff and will announce other cuts affecting its news operation, sources inside the N&O tell

A formal announcement may not come until next week, however. The N&O is part of the McClatchy (NYSE: MNI) newspaper chain, and the group reportedly is planning to announce corporate-wide cutbacks, one newsroom source said. McClatchy also owns The Charlotte Observer. …

Asked about layoffs, Felicia Gressette, vice president of marketing for the N&O who spoke on behalf of publisher Orage Quarles III, said, “We’re just not going to comment.”

When asked about other cost-cutting moves, Gressette noted: “Any changes will be announced in the N&O, not”

The layoffs could affect as few as 15 or as many as 30 newsroom staffers, the sources said.

Numerous people had expected the layoffs to be made Monday following an announcement by John Drescher, the paper’s senior vice president and executive editor, at a recent staff meeting that layoffs would take place.

Gressette noted that Drescher talks often with the newsroom “about the great changes” the newspaper industry faces and that “more are headed our way.” Drescher did say that there would “likely be more staff reductions,” Gressette said. However, she added, that comment “did not mean there would be layoffs.”

“Management put out the word that layoffs were coming,” one source said. “There was no timeline.” Among the staff, “no one knows the criteria” that will be followed in determining who is let go, the source added.

A person in direct contact with several newsroom staffers described the atmosphere at The N&O as “incredibly anxious. … People are waiting for the hammer to fall.”

Word of the pending layoffs surprised many among the “rank and file,” according to one source who spoke on the basis of anonymity. They had expected that a series of voluntary buyouts offered by the N&O in April would be enough to pare newsroom expenses as the paper struggles with its finances, but, “Things just changed at the corporate level,” the insider said. …

Other cutbacks and changes include:

• The folding of the Business section into the City/State section. Business is currently published as a separate section, although the newspaper no longer runs extensive stock listings.

• The size of the space devoted to news will be reduced.

Drescher also could announce what a source described as a “major” reorganization of the news operation.

When asked about that move, Gressette said, “We are always looking for ways to be more efficient.”

The N&O recently said it would increase subscription prices. ...

The entire WRAL story’s here.



I’m never glad to hear hard-working, able and honest employees are losing their jobs.

At the N&O, there are some reporters and editors of the type I’ve just mentioned.

There are also hundreds of N&O support staff – phone operators, accountants, security staff, subscription services staff and others – who are also “hard-working, able and honest employees.”

For all of those people, I’m sorry their jobs are at risk.

As for the people at the N&O who brought us those framing stories in Spring 2006 even as they knew they were biased or even outright false, I can’t summon any regret if they lose their jobs in the news industry.

I feel the same way about the people at the N&O who made the decision not to tell us our former ground commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, said in a prepared speech that most MSM in Iraq was biased against our military and that their reporting had caused the deaths of some of our forces. ( See On Sanchez: The N&O deceived us )

News reporting jobs need to be for people who report news.

Those who deceive us don’t belong at news organizations.

I’ll keep following this story.

Hat tip: Walter Abbott


GPrestonian said...

Show Barry Saunders the door, please...

bill anderson said...

There are two important aspects to what is happening in journalism. First, newspaper journalism (print media in general) has not done well in the digital age, as people have found relatively inexpensive substitutes to the newspaper and news magazine.

When I was in high school and college, the way we found out about events was in the newspaper. Broadcast news was limited to the relatively brief newscasts, as the only broadcasts available were on airwaves we caught ourselves. (Cable TV had not become a household item at the time.)

Today, with cable, satellite TV and radio, and the Internet, we get our news long before newspapers can give them to us. That places newspapers at a terrible disadvantage.

Second, the mainstream newsroom is extremely Politically Correct. The worldview of the typical N&O reporter, for example, is so far to the left of the average person that it is impossible to bridge that gap.

For example, in the Duke case, the average person did not take long to figure it was a hoax; the Durham and Duke police knew it immediately, but were egged on by the black community and the hard leftists of the Triangle area. The alleged sexual assault that occurred was a figment of the PC imagination, and who better to push this view than the PC N&O?

Thus, we see the intersection of cheaper substitutes AND the lack of ideological/personal connections between journalists and average readers. The day when journalists wrote for a general audience is over.

Today, the N&O writers preach to the hard-left Triangle crowd, but not to general readers. We will see this develop more and more in the future, I believe.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone ever had an explanation from publisher Orage Quarles III about the newspaper's inflammatory and fundamentally disingenuous coverage in March 2006? Does McClatchy hold Quarles accountable for what his newspaper publishes? On the surface, Melanie Sill was rewarded with a "promotion" to a California newspaper.

Anonymous said...


Ther sooner the N&O disappears from the landscape, the better it will be.

Their cancer is terminal.


Archer05 said...

Wall Street Blogger sees more than cutbacks in the future of some large newspaper companies.
Filed under: Bad news

As newspaper spending falls,[some companies face end.]

McClatchy recently wrote off almost $1.5 billion due to the falling value of its assets. Both Moody's and Fitch have either cut the firm's ratings or put it on credit review.

[Just a year ago, it would have been unusual to find investors who thought a large newspaper company would go Chapter 11. This year, it will almost certainly happen.]

Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at

Archer05 said...

I wonder if this bit of news will fit into the MSM‘s Obama ‘Tankism’ plan? Or, if Obama has more “Splaining to do” AGAIN!
Israel Insider Report: News story [complete with pictures.]
June 13, 2008

Malik Obama confirms his half-brother [Barack grew up a Muslim.]
As the Jerusalem Post reports, "Barack Obama's half brother Malik said Thursday that if elected his brother will be a good president for the Jewish people, despite his Muslim background. In an interview with Army Radio he expressed a special salutation from the Obamas of Kenya."

In a remarkable denial issued last November that still stands on the official campaign website, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs issued a statement explaining that ["Senator Obama has never been a Muslim,] was not raised as a Muslim, and is a committed Christian."

Anonymous said...

When a paper is more conservative than its readership but more liberal than its market, the death spiral accelerates. There is no way out without antagonizing the declining number of people who still read the paper.

Anonymous said...

What about covering the news in a fair and nonpartisan manner and keeping the left-wing opinions to the editorial page?

JWM said...

To GPrestonian,

By all means, show him the door.

But why did even the N&O let him in in the first place?

To Bill,

Well said.

I'm serious about this question: Do you agree with some who say many MSM reporters and editors think what they need to do to stop the bleeding is go even further to the Left in order to be "more relevant?"

To Anon @ 12:06,

Good questions all. I plan to comment on them on the main page in a day or two.

To Ken,

I wouldn't go so far as to say the N&O is "terminal."

However, there are some very knowledgeable people who agree with you. They think it will disappear altogether.

There are others who think the N&O will survive, but in a much diminished and even more tabloid and partisan form than at present.

To Archer 05,

I'll take a look at both your leads.

To Anon @ 5:22,

I like the way you state that.

It has the feel of Anon @ 5:22's first law of newspaper death spiral.

To Anon @ 12:41,

What you suggest is reasonable and really in everyones interest.

But many at the N&O wouldn't survive the shock.

Thank you all for your comments.


Anonymous said...

You run a great blog, John. Your mentions of the N&O seem to draw a higher response than anything else you post. This probably means there is a thirst for information about why the newspaper did what it did in 2006 and why it hasn't fully apologized for its role in the frame of the athletes. Informed readers want to know if the N&O and its leaders will ever be held accountable for its defamation of the lacrosse players and for casting the entire team in a false light?