Tag Archives: winston-salem journal

Reading Mrs. Adkins

Anne Adkins has been writing an occasional column for the Winston-Salem Journal for a while now and I must say that, to me, her writing is consistently the best in the paper. From this Sunday's column

George got a job and over the next few months he paid back his loan and appeared to be doing just fine. In those years immediately following World War II, our generation was full of halcyon dreams springing from the conviction that after years of war, we would bring to the world lasting peace. Who would have thought that early one morning on a Virginia mountain road, George’s body would be found face-down in a ditch with a bullet hole in the back.

That was nearly three-quarters of a century ago. As far as I know, no one ever found out who killed George. As the years went by, Al and I, like most of our generation, worked hard, raised our kids, saw more wars come and some of them go, and squeezed the best part out of living. And like every generation before us, we also buried our dead.

Last week a beat-up, yellow truck sped past me on the highway. Suddenly the years peeled away, leaving me with the sharpness of a memory unexpectedly returned. I shut my eyes and there George was, my young lost friend, tossing me one more smile.

I smiled back at the bittersweet thought of a young lost friend who never had the chance to find his way, but for one shining moment in time was King of the Road, gridiron hero of the Golden Wave, the sweetest guy in town.

A Couple of Interesting Developments at JournalNow

The Winston-Salem Journal's online operation caught my eye a couple of times this past week.  First they integrated Facebook with their comment system in an effort, I assume, to deal with some pretty nasty/terrible anonymous commentors on the site.  I haven't studied it in depth, but the move seems to have helped with the tone of the comments.  Truth be told they couldn't have made the situation any worse so I think it was a good move.

The second thing I noticed was this story on a man who's installed a water capture system at his house.  The story itself was interesting, but what really grabbed my attention was that it was a video.  It was produced by the folks at the Hickory Daily Record, but I could see the W-S Journal doing the same thing with their own reporters.  Seems like a smart move to me – especially with stories that lend themselves to the video format – and now that they've added the ability to share/embed the stories I think they'll be able to really take advantage of their readers' social media activities. (Maybe they've been doing this for a while and I missed it, but either way I think it's a good idea).  Here's embed of the story:

Okay, I Was Wrong

Back in the dark ages, maybe five or six years ago, I argued pretty strongly that the local paper should allow unfettered comments on its stories.  I thought they needed to follow the lead of blogs and embrace the idea of having a conversation with their audience.  Oh how smart I thought I was, and oh how wrong I now believe I was.  It's not that I've given up on the idea of having a conversation with your audience, it's just that comments on news stories don't generate conversation – unless you consider inviting dozens or hundreds of people into a room and watching them insult each other to be conversation.

The straw that broke the camel's back for me was this story in the Winston-Salem Journal.  The article is about non-profits seeing an increasing need for their services, but the general public not seeing it because people are putting up a brave front.  Somehow that article generated a comment string that veered off into anti-Semitism various other rants and I don't have the stomach or time to read them all to see how it happened.  Sadly, it's par for the course for the Journal's site and it's indicative of the tiny minds that frequent the site and leave behind turdballs also called comments.

It might be a better situation if news sites treated story moderation as community moderation; they could impose some order if they actively moderated the comments, but that's more than a full time job and I just don't think they have the staff or budget to do it.  That's why I'm going to reverse course and say that if I were king of the world I'd turn off story comments UNLESS active moderation was possible.

Farewell to the Winston-Salem Journal Copy Desk

A video farewell to the 18 copy desk employees at the Winston-Salem Journal who lost their jobs thanks to Media General consolidating the copy desk operations for its three metro papers. Not sure how a city newspaper is supposed to function without its own copy desk, but I guess we're about to find out. (Thanks to Scott Dickson for sharing this on Facebook).


Lost Another Good One

I'm not sure what happened, but apparently Kim Underwood has left the employ of The Winston-Salem Journal. Since moving to Winston-Salem in '04 I've enjoyed reading Kim's work in the Journal and, more importantly to me, I've enjoyed shooting the breeze with him over a cup of coffee on a few occasions.  I even had the opportunity to rub elbows with him for the day job when he covered the Triad Apartment Association's Labor of Love project last winter, and it was a great experience.

Apparently I'm not the only one who is bummed by Kim's leaving the paper. Linda Brinson, former Journal editorial page editor, wrote a "Letter to the Editor" about it:

For many years, his wise and gentle columns touched us all, particularly the columns about his dog, Buster, and the children in his life, Sparkle Girl and Doobins. Kim also is a skilled, highly professional reporterdevoted to fairness, integrity and ethics, qualities that are too often lacking in today’s journalism. He will be missed, and the Journal is diminished by his leaving.

Like I said, I don't know what happened, but I do know that the Journal's lost another good person.

Pretty Soon the Journal Could Be a Home-Based Business

More bad news for the Camel City's last major tree killer:

A corporate consolidation initiative by Media General Inc. will result in the elimination of two newsroom operations at the Winston-Salem Journal by Oct. 31, company officials said Wednesday.
The copy-editing and page-design departments will be shifted to larger Media General publications –the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and The Tampa Tribune in Florida. The consolidated operation is expected to start up in the third quarter, said Media General, which is based in Richmond.

The consolidation will involve job cuts.

 "It is undetermined how many jobs and where," said Ray Kozakewicz, a spokesman for Media General. The Journal has 18½ positions in those two departments, representing 20 percent of its newsroom staff.

A design coordinator will be based at the Journal, Kozakewicz said.

From what I can tell it sounds like they'll be losing about 16 people from the 92-ish that are currently there.  Sure, some might be able to get jobs in Richmond or Tampa if they want them but that's still a job loss as far as Winston-Salem is concerned. 

At this rate I might be able to rent the Journal space in my house as the kids move out over the next five years.  I can easily accommodate the five of them and their computers.  I might even be able to fit in the high speed copier (with collator/stapler!).  

Kim Says Goodbye to His Dogness

On a couple of occassions I've had the chance to sit down and have a cup of coffee with Winston-Salem Journal reporter Kim Underwood.  He's a great guy and it's always a fun conversation.  I also happen to think he's one of Winston-Salem's crown jewels and his piece on "His Dogness" goes a long way to explaining why.  Great stuff Kim.

Winston-Salem Journal’s Managing Editor Heading Out

Ken Otterbourg, the Winston-Salem Journal's managing editor, is leaving the paper at the end of the month.  From his blog post about his departure:

We will be running a story tomorrow announcing my resignation as
managing editor at the Journal. We told the staff yesterday. So
consider this the tease, as it will make you read the article.
But the short version is that a) I wanted to try some other things
besides running a newsroom before I got too old to make the transition
and that b) I had some substantial disagreements with our corporate
staff about some planned changes for our newsroom in the coming year.

Update: I'll keep in place the speculatin' that I wrote below just to show how off one person (me) can be when working with partial info.  According to the article that the Journal ran about Otterbourg's resignation his disagreement with the corporate office has to do with consolidating the copy editing and design functions of the three largest papers.  Of course that could have led to people being let go (speculation number 1), but still it looks like I really was speaking through my nether regions. Update End

That last line has me speculatin' and the three possibilities that pop into my head are:

  1. He's had to be the guy handing out pink slips the last couple of years and he doesn't want to do more of the same.  In classic corporate style the suits in Richmond want him to cut senior reporters since they cost so much and hand the reins to kids out of journalism school (if such people still exist) and hope for the best.  
  2. The suits in Richmond want the newsroom to be better integrated with advertising so that they can offer more "innovative" business solutions to their advertisers.  Hey, if it's good for Murdoch's peeps then why not Media General's?
  3. The suits are considering pulling the plug on the printed product and going entirely digital.

Remember this is pure speculation on my part and I could be totally talking out of my nether regions, but I don't think the speculation is too much of a stretch, especially the first one.  Believe me, I hope I'm wrong.

Pot, Say Hello to Kettle

Sometimes the comments provide more entertainment than the stories at the Winston-Salem Journal.  An example from this story was submitted by AverageCitizen in response to a comment left by ThePossum:

The only cliche is in the critisism.I think the Journal deserves a better class of commenter.

Perhaps one that can spell? Maybe that's why he/she is just AverageCitizen and not SuperiorCitizen.