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Apr 06, 2008

N&O Coverage of Durham -- My Comment and the N&O Editor's Response

I recently sent a frustrated comment to the News & Observer regarding their seeming "Most everything in Durham is crime" coverage.  See below for my comment, and for the reply from the N&O's Durham editor, Rob Waters (who graciously gave me permission to publish his response).

My comment (27 March, 8:45 p.m.):

Subj: Is there nothing else to report about in Durham?

12 out of 15 articles in today's N&O "Durham" link are about crime (see below)*. I'm not denying that most of the 12 are in some form newsworthy. But is there nothing else happening in Durham that might be MORE newsworthy than at least half of these? Would your readers not find it interesting or useful to read about more things than an 80% roster of crime-related happenings?

I'm a Hillsborough resident who spends a lot of time in Durham. And I'm finding the N&O less and less useful at telling me about what might be happening in my second city.

News & Observer Durham Editor Rob Waters's response (28 Mar, 10:30 a.m.):

From: rwaters [mailto:rwaters@newsobserv...

Sent: Friday, March 28, 2008 10:23 AM
To: phil@marsosudi....
Cc: metroeds; Eric Frederick
Subject: Re: Contact Newsroom: Is there nothing else to report about in Durham?

Mr. Marsosudiro,

We report plenty of news other than crime in Durham, but sometimes our Web site makes it seem otherwise.

The snapshot you provided was from early last evening, before we posted our stories that are in today's print edition. Below is a snapshot from this morning, that contains a bit more of a mix.

As the day progresses, our Web site is programmed to list the most recent postings first. Some of them are fairly trivial, and more than a few of them are simply announcements from the city or county government or the Durham PD — information these public entities would like to have out there — and we're just passing it along. A lot of days, the posting of these minor news items (many of which are about crime) has the effect of displacing some of our more comprehensively reported stories. It's an imperfect system, and we're continually trying to tweak it to make it more useful.

The other thing you should know if you're interested in news from Durham is that much of our news-gathering energy is focused on the weekly Durham News, which comes out Saturday and is distributed free to about 70,000 households in Durham County (but not to Hillsborough). You can find that online by poking around the regular N&O site for awhile, or you can go to it directly here:
http://www.thedurhamnews.com/
A fresh weekly batch of stories (none of them about crime) will be posted there early tomorrow morning.

Our Durham staff also maintains a blog. We have busy days and slow days, but generally we post a dozen or more times a week here:
http://blogs.newsobserver.com/bullseye/

Thanks for writing,

Rob Waters
Durham editor, The News & Observer
Editor, The Durham News
Durham, NC
919 956-2431

----------------------------------------------
(FRIDAY A.M. SNAPSHOT)
Durham police report 'suspicious death'
Durham police this morning are investigating "a suspicious death" of a man at Bay Creek Apartments, 1309 Hudson Ave.
Updated: Mar. 28, 2008 7:26 AM | Full story

Durham police get new deputy chief
Triangle Briefs: A new deputy chief will be among 24 Durham Police Department employees promoted at a ceremony tonight.
Updated: Mar. 28, 2008 3:21 AM | Full story

Schools might ask for more
School officials could ask county commissioners for a $7.4 million increase in their local budget for next year, according to a draft proposal that debuted at a school board meeting Thursday.
Updated: Mar. 28, 2008 3:21 AM | Full story

Teen with a record gunned down on Durham street
John Fitzpatrick Jr. saw Sean Kali Buwe as more than just a defendant he represented in court. He wanted to help change the 18-year-old for the better.
Updated: Mar. 28, 2008 3:21 AM | Full story

Used adult bikes wanted
They will be sent to Costa Rica.
Updated: Mar. 28, 2008 3:21 AM | Full story

Durham police wrap up internal cases
Internal investigations into the actions of three Durham police officers, including one who shot and killed a teenager, have been completed, but the public may never know whether the department thought the officers acted appropriately.
Updated: Mar. 28, 2008 3:21 AM | Full story

Durham police chided for marijuana case
A prosecutor has tossed out marijuana trafficking charges against a Duke University student, prompting criticism from a defense lawyer that police are doing their business backward.
Updated: Mar. 27, 2008 5:28 AM | Full story

County is collecting hygiene items
Triangle Briefs:Several county agencies and volunteers are leading a drive to gather donations of personal hygiene supplies for middle schoolers.
Updated: Mar. 28, 2008 7:37 AM | Full story
Suspect in break-in surrenders to police

Triangle Briefs: A man wanted in connection with a break-in at a home on North Roxboro Street on March 12 turned himself in to authorities Wednesday.
Updated: Mar. 27, 2008 2:24 AM | Full story

Durham sets session on probation
Failure to keep up with two now accused of murder prompts crime Cabinet meeting.
Updated: Mar. 27, 2008 2:24 AM | Full story
Man fatally shot on Durham sidewalk

Durham police officers are investigating a homicide after a man was found fatally wounded on a sidewalk Wednesday night.
Updated: Mar. 27, 2008 2:23 AM | Full story
3 shootings, 3 deaths, 3 autopsies

Triangle Briefs: Recently released autopsy reports detail how three men who died late last year were killed, including one who died from police bullets.
Updated: Mar. 26, 2008 3:02 AM | Full story

Man collapsed, died after fight
Frank Carver Jr. of Durham was talking with police after the affray when he fell ill.
Updated: Mar. 25, 2008 2:44 AM | Full story

First there's 'smoke,' then ATM is swiped
Triangle Briefs: A tall man apparently led a Durham motel clerk astray with a false report of smoke in the building, then wheeled the motel's ATM into his waiting pickup truck, police said.
Updated: Mar. 25, 2008 2:43 AM | Full story

Durham trial opens window on police work, gangs
A murder trial set to begin today in Durham offers a glimpse into how young people can be drawn into gang life in this city.
Updated: Mar. 24, 2008 8:22 AM | Full story

---------------------------------
Stories from The Durham News:

Downtown boom bypassing civic center
City debates spending $6 million on upgrades.

Mold-free building wows crowd
Adolescents surged through the doors of Durham School of the Arts in February to see new building.

Prayer vigil scheduled for slain Duke grad student
Abhijit Mahato was fatally shot Jan. 18.

Pitch made for city-funded neighborhood liaison
Advocate would cut through bureaucracy, some claim, but others say it's unnecessary.
More stories...
Special Advertising Section

2008 Summer Options - Durham/Orange County
For School-Age Children and Teens

---------------------------

*here was the previous evening's list that I was complaining about:

Durham police chided for marijuana case
A prosecutor has tossed out marijuana trafficking charges against a Duke University student, prompting criticism from a defense lawyer that police are doing their business backward.
Updated: Mar. 27, 2008 5:28 AM | Full story

County is collecting hygiene items
Triangle Briefs: Several county agencies and volunteers are leading a drive to gather donations of personal hygiene supplies for middle schoolers.
Updated: Mar. 27, 2008 4:52 PM | Full story
Suspect in break-in surrenders to police

Triangle Briefs: A man wanted in connection with a break-in at a home on North Roxboro Street on March 12 turned himself in to authorities Wednesday.
Updated: Mar. 27, 2008 2:24 AM | Full story

Durham sets session on probation
Failure to keep up with two now accused of murder prompts crime Cabinet meeting.
Updated: Mar. 27, 2008 2:24 AM | Full story

Man fatally shot on Durham sidewalk
Durham police officers are investigating a homicide after a man was found fatally wounded on a sidewalk Wednesday night.
Updated: Mar. 27, 2008 2:23 AM | Full story

3 shootings, 3 deaths, 3 autopsies
Triangle Briefs: Recently released autopsy reports detail how three men who died late last year were killed, including one who died from police bullets.
Updated: Mar. 26, 2008 3:02 AM | Full story

Man collapsed, died after fight
Frank Carver Jr. of Durham was talking with police after the affray when he fell ill.
Updated: Mar. 25, 2008 2:44 AM | Full story
First there's 'smoke,' then ATM is swiped

Triangle Briefs: A tall man apparently led a Durham motel clerk astray with a false report of smoke in the building, then wheeled the motel's ATM into his waiting pickup truck, police said.
Updated: Mar. 25, 2008 2:43 AM | Full story

Durham trial opens window on police work, gangs
A murder trial set to begin today in Durham offers a glimpse into how young people can be drawn into gang life in this city.
Updated: Mar. 24, 2008 8:22 AM | Full story

Boy's death in pool is ruled an accident
Triangle Briefs:The death of a 6-year-old boy in an abandoned pool near Durham has been ruled an accident.
Updated: Mar. 20, 2008 2:42 AM | Full story

Autopsy shows man riddled with bullets
Victim attacked in car on N.C. 98.
Updated: Mar. 20, 2008 2:42 AM | Full story

Durham convict is granted a new trial
Triangle Briefs: The N.C. Court of Appeals granted a new trial Tuesday to a Durham man convicted of assault because a prosecutor failed to provide adequate explanations for dismissing potential jurors who were African-American.
Updated: Mar. 20, 2008 2:42 AM | Full story

Gubernatorial forum set at Duke
Triangle Briefs: Duke University will host a forum from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday for gubernatorial candidates on "The Future of Water in North Carolina."
Updated: Mar. 20, 2008 2:42 AM | Full story

Suspects sought in trailer break-in
Triangle Briefs: Investigators are looking for the people who entered a business parking lot at 5420 Chapel Hill Road about 11:30 p.m. Feb. 12, broke into a trailer, stole about $6,000 worth of tools and fled in a white Ford F-250 crew-cab truck.
Updated: Mar. 19, 2008 2:42 AM | Full story

Suspect who fled police is sought
Triangle Briefs: Police are trying to locate Walter Chavis IV, who is wanted on weapons and drug charges.
Updated: Mar. 19, 2008 2:42 AM | Full story

09:59 PM in Destination Durham, Editorial, News | Permalink

Comments

yeah, um, the weekly Durham paper of which he speaks usually sits in my driveway for several days until I remember to put it directly into the recycling bin.

It's just as bad as what you saw online: crime, crime, crime, crime + old ladies and their activities in church and perhaps a pie bake-off.

where is the reporting on all the cultural events? all the cool community organizing? all the smart people doing smart people stuff?

if you knew nothing of Durham but what you read in the N&O you would imagine that we are all just highly religious and highly violent know-nothings.

and don't get me started on how much they F#$% up duke lacrosse and brought that whole mess to Durham.....

grrrrrr. HATE N&O.

Posted by: JennyC | Apr 7, 2008 11:25:48 AM

Gotta disagree about The Durham News. Yeah, the N&O is notorious for their poor news coverage of Durham, but the free Saturday insert is pretty decent. The bake-offs aside (yes, they appear with regularity), one can almost always find a more in-depth story about a new development (like Golden Belt), old development (like the multi-piece story on Urban Renewal and Hayti), or how the new and old storylines tie together (like any front page Jim Wise editorial).

The non-feature articles are rehashes of the week's news, which you probably have already read in numerous blogs or newspapers by Saturday, but overall TDN is a fine publication. Who else delivers the resturant health reports (Rick's: YUCK!) directly to your driveway?

Posted by: ASE | Apr 9, 2008 5:25:15 PM

Obviously your frustration came from not seeing it one day, but seeing this kind of reporting nearly every day for a very long time. It may or may not be intentional for the N&O to do that, but we need a good Durham-centric daily newspaper using local reporters.

Posted by: Valerie | Apr 10, 2008 5:01:20 AM

you know, the N&o is doing that today. There is an article about an NCCU student who lived in Wake County and was killed in Wake County, yet the story line in the Durham section reads
"Police: NCCU Student Stabbed 40 times"

But there is no link in the Wake County section to the story.

Posted by: Natalie | Apr 10, 2008 9:45:58 AM

I heard the Herald-Sun got some new staff. Lets hope that they can make the Durham Newspaper seem more like a city paper than some small-town paper with crappy reporting.

Posted by: allen | Apr 13, 2008 2:38:04 PM

This is hilarious only for the point that the guy from the News and Disturber said look at what we printed it's vastly different from whats online.. and it wasn't.

Posted by: Anon | Apr 16, 2008 2:42:18 PM

This is hilarious only for the point that the guy from the News and Disturber said look at what we printed it's vastly different from whats online.. and it wasn't.

Posted by: Anon | Apr 16, 2008 2:42:40 PM