No news

A few years ago, a fire in an apartment complex killed five kittens. The Chapel Hill News story listed the names of all five cats. Last week, a fire in an apartment off Weaver Dairy Road killed a 7-year-old girl. The Chapel Hill News didn’t bother to print her name. We had to go to WRAL-TV news to find out she was Asiediya Clement, an only child, and to see a photo of her and learn a little bit about her life.

What this town needs is a newspaper. The Chapel Hill Herald gives us news highlights and provides objective reporting. But it is only a single sheet wrapped around Durham’s Herald-Sun.

The Chapel Hill News has become nothing more than a blog on newsprint. It covers news selectively. Generally any story about an animal trumps that of people. When Oliver Smithies won a Nobel Prize, the story appeared on page 3; the front page featured a story about a police dog retiring. It shows its bias, most recently in a story about a fired sanitation worker suing the town. The story referred to the town employee by the pejorative term “garbage worker” and incorrectly stated that the person who initially filed a complaint against Kerry Bigelow was “a neighbor.” The woman who filed the complaint was not Bigelow’s neighbor; she was a resident of a house along Bigelow’s route, in a neighborhood far from his own.

A newspaper should reflect its community. Years ago, when Ted Vaden was editor and the newspaper had more than one reporter, the paper published stories that kept the community informed. These days, that function is filled by The Daily Tar Heel, which during the summer publishes only weekly. It should resume daily publication in a week or two, once the students are back.
– Nancy Oates

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5 Comments

  1. John Kramer

     /  August 15, 2011

    I agree completely. Now that I live in Durham I see what a real newspaper is like, the Herald Sun is really good as far as covering Durham news.

    As one local blogger called it, the “Chapel Hill Real Estate Advertiser” is not hitting on much. Heck they almost never even have raspberries in their roses and raspberries column, LOL!

  2. Ph. Johnson-Sledge

     /  August 15, 2011

    Spot on Nancy. Spot on. While CHNews hasn’t enough staff to be a completely reliable news source, it could at least attempt some level of non-biased inquiry while reporting on stories that clearly have more than one side. A lack of staff shouldn’t mean a lack of integrity.

    I too remember the days of Ted Vaden-when the paper made an effort to get real news out in to the community. I am fearful, with the upcoming Town council elections, that CHNews will print only Town Hall sanctioned information, rather than present factual, balanced coverage that voters so desperately need. I’d like to see them tackle CH’s historically low-voter turn out now, instead of mentioning weak stats after the fact.

  3. Joe

     /  August 15, 2011

    I’m finding that 1360’s chapelboro.com is coming along nicely in filling the void left by the News and the Herald. I think that 1360 is doing a decent job, and I suspect they need to, as the AM radio listening crowd is quickly dying off. They’re a bit light on the hard news right now, but it seems as though it’s improving over time. I hope they’re making enough money with their web site to continue!

  4. Jean Rodez

     /  August 15, 2011

    “If the paper should at any time be the voice of self-interest or become the spokesman of privilege or selfishness it would be untrue to its history – Josephus Daniels

    Unseen forces or pressures? Isn’t it owned by the same group that owns a couple of state dailies that have lost their purpose?

  5. Leroy Towns

     /  August 17, 2011

    Great post. Right on target. Keep up the good
    Work.

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