Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Former N&O Columnist Told “Look To Yourself”

In March 2006 Dennis Rogers was a news columnist for McClatchy’s Raleigh News & Observer when the N&O’s blatantly biased, racially inflammatory and sometimes deliberately fraudulent coverage ignited the Duke lacrosse witch hunt.

By late April 2006 sensible people realized that what was then called “the Duke lacrosse rape scandal” was, in fact, a frame-up attempt involving some Durham prosecutors, some of its police, and many others.

But Rogers was not one of the sensible people. As late as August ’06 he penned a column in which he made what he knew was a serious and false charge about the three innocent Duke students then under indictment for gang rape and other felonies. In the same column Rogers went on to smear the entire Duke Men’s lacrosse team (See A Look Back At Former N&O'er Dennis Rogers. )

That was then. What about now?

Lately Rogers has been making false statements and in other ways smearing those he says are responsible for the problems journalists like him and others who work at the N&O are now experiencing.

Along with his falsehoods, Rogers’ recent comments are noteworthy for the generosity with which he self-righteously lathers himself and his spews of anger, all he claims in defense of “N&O people.”

Rogers’ drive-by comments reveal no sense of responsibility for the problems he and journalists like him have helped bring on themselves and others who did nothing wrong but whose misfortune it’s been to work alongside them.

Here in full and italics is a comment Rogers recently left at this blog followed in plain by edited portions of a JinC commenter’s response to Rogers.

Dennis Rogers said:

I probably shouldn't be but I am nonetheless amazed at the cruelty and mean spirits displayed on this website.

You may or may not like the N&O, its employees or Melanie Sill but to wish them and their families the suffering and strain of unemployment is simply beyond the pale. I vehemently disagree with most of what appears on this blog, but I would never wish ill to those who support it.

N&O people are not privileged elites. They work hard for middle class salaries. Not only are they the writers and editors who work hard to throw crooks like Jim Black and Meg Scott Phipps in prison, they are people who sweep floors, take care of administration, drive trucks, maintain equipment and a hundred other skills. They're honest, hard working people who don't deserve to be thrown out to the cheers of those on this blog.

You should be ashamed of yourselves, but from what I've seen, I doubt you. And unlike you cowards, I will sign my name to my words, as I did for 31 years.

Dennis Rogers, N&O columnist 1976-2007

Well, there's Dennis Rogers.

Now Phil Smart responding from Johannesburg, SA:

Dear Dennis

I probably shouldn't be but I am nonetheless amazed at the cruelty and mean spirits displayed by the N&O, its editorial staff (Melanie Sill, John Drescher, Linda Williams Ted Vaden et al), its reporting staff (Anne Blythe, Samiha Kahana, Ruth “You Know, We Know You Know” Sheehan, etc) and in its columns and posts (Barry Saunders, Linda Williams, Ruth Sheehan, Melanie Sill, Ted Vaden and you, Dennis)!

I neither personally like nor dislike the N&O, its above mentioned staff, or its other employees, but I wish to point out to them and their families that the suffering and strain of unemployment that N&O employees are currently facing is in some significant measure the result of the N&O’s Duke lacrosse editorial and reporting cowardice and ideological bias.

I sometimes agree and sometimes disagree with what appears on and in the N&O with the notable exception of its Duke lacrosse coverage, so essential to the frame-up attempt and the very great harm that’s been done to so many innocent people.

Dennis, you can only push readers so far, before they start pushing back and deserting you.

Look to yourself - Dennis, and the part you played in the N&O's demise, before excoriating those bloggers and commenters who are not so sympathetic to the current terminal writhings of the N&O.

This is not about the N&O people who are not the privileged elites. It is not about those who work hard for middle class salaries.

It is about the reporters, writers and editors who worked so hard to throw innocent (and demonstrably so) persons like Reade Seligmann, Dave Evans and Collin Finnerty in jail for a "crime" that never happened; that worked so hard to perpetuate the frame of those young men by former and now disgraced DA Mike Nifong and others at Duke and in Durham.

It’s about those who trashed and even now continue to trash the other Lacrosse players who are finally seeking justice through the courts.

I sympathize with N&O employees who sweep floors, take care of administration, drive trucks, maintain equipment and a hundred other skills. They're honest, hard working people who, I wholeheartedly agree, don't deserve to be thrown out on the street.

I agree with John there are honest, able reporters and editors at the N&O who did nothing to hurt the paper or the community.

I defy you to substantiate from any part of this blog, or any comment made here that supports your hyperbolic "to the cheers of those on this blog" statement. (What happened to dispassionate, subtle and nuanced reporting - Dennis?)

They are the collateral damage caused by years and years of pernicious socialist bias against the very system that allows you the "freedom of speech" you and your editorial and management colleagues have for so long hidden behind and abused.

You and most of the rest of the N&O editorial and news management staff should be ashamed of yourselves.

But from what I've seen, I doubt you or the N&O will ever apologise to your readers and those "middle management" staff and other workers whom you profess to hold so dear.

You call the people at JinC "cowards” and boast you sign your name to your words, as you’ve done for 31 years.

Well whoop de do - Dennis!

Phil Smart, Johannesburg SA.

Not an N&O columnist since 1953.


Anonymous said...

Two "heh" moments:

1> "But Rogers was not one of the sensible people."

2> "Not a N&O Columnist since 1953."



Anonymous said...

Dannis Rogers is not Smart.

Anonymous said...

Why did they fire Dennis and keep Barry?

Anonymous said...

Great post!

Rogers could learn a lot from it except that would mean taking responsibility for the harm he and his journalist friends at the N&O did to innocent people.

Lax Mom

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, the N&O used their liberal biased reporting to foist Democrats upon voters for years.

After witnessing the Lacrosse case reporting, I realized it was just the first erroneous reporting that I recognized, and then I had my own light bulb moment.

The N&O is a waste of time, ink, and trees. I am not interested in their online news either, why would they ‘Change’ from their biased reporting? They have learned nothing; Dennis is living proof of that. I guess the N&O employees that lost their jobs to outsourcing didn’t have families, huh Dennis?

Anonymous said...

Per usual, this blog and most of the people who comment show a FUNDAMENTAL lack of understanding about the media business.

The FACT is (and I realize that's a foreign word for most people on this blog, so I urge you to pull out a dictionary before continuing) the N&O, the NYT and many other MSM outlets reach MORE people than ever. To say the audience is deserting, say, the N&O, is patently untrue. Wrong. False.

The issue is the business model. Some of the biggest advertisers -- automakers, large retailers, for instance -- have consolidated, gone bankrupt or found themselves on the rocks in recent months and years. That has cut the amount of advertising dollars in general.

Many of those that are remaining have shifted their money to other platforms that are cheaper or reach more segmented audiences.

Have newspapers stumbled? Absolutely. But not for the reasons people on this blog continue to (WRONGLY) recite. Newspapers became too complacent in the way they made money and did not respond quickly enough to the changes brought by technology. That's what's hurting companies such as the NYT and N&O.

Will they recover? I don't know.

But I do know that the commentary on this blog reveals a flawed understanding, not only of media, but of business in general. You'll be better served sticking to topics you actually know something about. The weather, perhaps?

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 12:25 sez: "...the N&O, the NYT and many other MSM outlets reach MORE people than ever. To say the audience is deserting, say, the N&O, is patently untrue. Wrong. False...."
That would explain why so many Americans still believe Saint Barack is the second coming.
Tarheel Hawkeye

Anonymous said...

Take your condescending lecture about business models and...well take a hike.
Business models for newspapers are changing because they are losing readership and credibility. No longer is it beneficial to my brand to be associated with the newspaper...a credible, respected source of impartial information. This has happened partly because of the rising bias and perception of bias in the newspapers and partly because readership of the printed version of the paper is nosediving. My brand is not enhanced by being in the paper. No longer do people perceive the paper as being worth even the small amount of a subscription.
Advertisers are just following the readers.
And while people look at the on line versions...they don't read them the same way that we once read a newspaper. We take what we need and leave the biased, silliness behind.
Apologists for the industry are in overdrive trying to reinvent the reality that the industry screwed itself by pissing off half of its readership ( a REALLY bad idea when your model is under pressure from technology).
The implosion of various dailies around the country is just the current manifestation of their dismissive, arrogant decisions over the pas ten years. Notice that only the lefties like Peolosi are looking to bail out their friends in the press.
The transition from aggressive coverage of Bush to the kid gloves for Obama are the nail in the coffin for the papers. The vacuous self importance of "speaking truth to power" has evaporated and been replaced with printing press releases from the administration.
Good bye newspapers. Good riddance.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:25

"But I do know that the commentary on this blog reveals a flawed understanding, not only of media, but of business in general."

I am only one person but I will never pay a dime to read the NYT. I consider the paper to be inaccurate and biased.

I could be mistaken but I sense there are many others that feel the same way.