Sunday, March 22, 2009

N&O’s Drescher Lashes Out At WRAL’s Goodmon

News executives often slice and dice competitors but it’s almost always off the record. However, in his latest column John Drescher, executive news editor at the McClatchy Co's. liberal/leftist Raleigh News & Observer lashed out at one of the N&O’s competitors.

I want to tell you about it and share my response to Drescher and snips from a few others who’ve commented at his column online.

After fulsomely praising the N&O for what he said was its “willing[ness] to talk about our[]” problems, Drescher told readers:

We might have written too much about our problems. But we wanted to set a standard for leaders in business and government.

No executive, in responding to a request from The N&O, can claim that we have not been willing to talk about our problems and share information about our business.

Also, Publisher Orage Quarles III and I have been available to reporters from other news outlets.

Compare our approach to that of one of our competitors, Capitol Broadcasting Co., which owns WRAL-TV.

TV stations are being hit by the same decline in advertising as we are. Capitol executives met with employees this week to discuss cost cutting. When The N&O's Jonathan Cox cornered Jim Goodmon, Capitol's owner and CEO, in a parking lot, Goodmon declined to talk.

Executives in the Triangle take note: Goodmon will send a reporter to talk to you about your business -- but he won't talk about his. And he operates on the public airwaves. He has more of an obligation than most to discuss his company's finances.

After we published a story about WRAL's problems, Goodmon gave an interview to But WRAL-TV still has not aired a story about itself.

I reminded Goodmon that Quarles talked with a WRAL reporter Monday but that Goodmon wouldn't talk with us. "My view is this is a private company and that's our business," he said Friday.

He said he would talk with us soon about industry trends but not give specifics about Capitol….
Drescher’s entire column’s here.

I responded to Drescher with this comment on his column thread:
Yes, you've run stories about N&O buyouts, layoffs, etc., often AFTER others such as WRAL and McClatchy Watch have reported them.

You and Quarles have been available to reporters, often for just a "no comment."

I don't recall an N&O story detailing ad revenue numbers for the last 5 years; or a story examining the effects on the N&O of McClatchy's K-R [Knight-Ridder] purchase.

Many say McClatchy (MNI ) CEO Pruitt's decision to purchase K-R loaded MNI with debt payments which forced it to lay off employees at all papers including the N&O; and that those layoffs have reduced the quality and scope of the N&O with the result that readers and advertisers have deserted the N&O in numbers greater than would otherwise be the case.

Former N&O editor Dan Gearino, like many others, has called for Pruitt's resignation. There's been no story on that.

And your columns have been very upbeat at a time when many N&O'ers say the N&O may go belly up as a print product.

John in Carolina
Folks, you see I made no reference to the specifics of what Drescher says about Goodmon or WRAL. That’s because at this point I know nothing about their side of it.

I’ll be following the story and would appreciate any info you can share.

Here are snips from the three others who’ve commented on the column thread.

WRAL's Jim Goodman is being hypocritical when he sends his reporters out to cover the latest bad news from other local businesses but refuses to talk about his own business. He should be transparent.
[Drescher’s] comments are reprehensible, eye poking as usual. The N&O is suffering an industry transition, being too stodgy to adapt in the age of the Information.
And third:
You have refused to comment in the past on N&O's financial affairs, preferring to handle the release of information on your own terms. Now not even a week since you extend a symbolic olive branch of transparency to a WRAL reporter, you lambaste Capitol for not following suit? …

This seems to me like borderline entrapment, and in my opinion, is a prime example of the kind of behavior that newspapers cannot afford to be associated with right now. What we need is integrity, as the papers so often remind us.


Anonymous said...

The N&O has been less than transparent in acknowledging its role in Nifong's frame of the Duke student-athletes. No apologies from Quarles or Sill for its March 2006 journalistic travesties, its sliming of the entire team, its Khanna-Blythe stories, its libelous poster, et al. Shameful.