Monday, September 5, 2011

It really should be called the Charlotte N&O

When the McClatchy chain moved all of the copy editing and design of the Raleigh News & Observer to Charlotte last month, I knew it wouldn't be good for N&O readers. But I didn't anticipate that it would be this bad.

I have no idea what Triangle stories on the news side are being missed because the copy desk is in the Charlotte Observer's building. In the sports section, though, if a game isn't either high school action or covered by a staff writer, it generally doesn't get into the section unless it also would be of interest to Charlotte readers.

The most recent blatant example of this came with the N&O's Labor Day section. It should have included a report on No. 2-ranked North Carolina's huge 2-1 men's soccer victory over No. 1 Louisville that avenged a loss in last season's NCAA semifinal. Below is my video of the final moments of the game:


While the Herald-Sun, which has its copy editing and design work done in Owensboro, Ky., published a staff-written game story on the game, not even a score appeared in Monday's News & Observer.

If an N&O writer isn't at Triangle non-revenue college sports event, it generally is invisible to N&O readers. But if you want to catch a blurb about non-revenue sports in the Charlotte area, it's there for you!

UNC's big win didn't merit a mention. But there are blurbs on Charlotte's 3-1 women's soccer victory (I had to check to see if it was women's soccer since it didn't say) over East Carolina and Davidson's 0-0 men's soccer tie with Denver.

This is really pathetic. Even if a copy editor is in Charlotte, he or she has access to UNC's athletic website, right? Obviously they've figured out how to go to the athletics websites for Charlotte and Davidson.

I spent years in sports departments of newspapers and know how non-revenue sports coverage gets into the newspaper: Copy editors have to go to websites (and read emailed releases) to get the information on games that aren't staffed and write stories. On a busy spring day, you can spend hours putting together a complete college roundup.

Or you can just ignore it, apparently.

Non-revenue high school sports agate shows up in the N&O because the high school coaches either call or have a student call the newspaper. Maybe college coaches should start doing that?

A couple of weeks ago, I was surprised to see that the N&O had three graphs on the Durham Bulls' game the previous day. That was much more than it usually gives the Bulls. But there was a very good explanation: The Bulls were playing the Charlotte Knights.

I know that these copy editors are in Charlotte and that they are probably overworked, so I won't "clobber" the poor copy editor who wrote the headline to the left (hat tip to Andy Bechtel for pointing out the head bust.)

The copy editors no doubt are overworked, which probably helps explain this correction and this correction, both from sports, in today's N&O.

When you are putting out multiple newspapers at one site, head busts such as this are bound to happen. There probably are fewer page proofers, and the proofing that is done probably is rushed. But how hard is it to just check the UNC website to see if there are any games that might be of interest to Triangle readers? Perhaps there's one involving the top two ranked men's soccer teams in the country?

The N&O wasn't the only media outlet that was clueless about a men's soccer game with national implications right in its back yard. While WTVD had video of the game and led its 11 p.m. Sunday night sportscast with UNC's win, WRAL didn't even report the score.

The News & Observer does a lot of terrific journalism, including the current series on the mistakes allegedly made by a Durham County prosecutor. This is a case of McClatchy management handcuffing its newspapers and making the job of hard-working reporters and editors much tougher.

Of course I can go to the athletics websites for the respective schools for stories on games, but it's not the same as a story written by a newspaper reporter with a critical eye. If there is any controversy, you'd never know it by reading stories written by the schools. But their jobs are to keep it positive.

We can only hope that the Charlotte area never loses interest in UNC, N.C. State and Duke men's basketball and football!

Since I moved back to North Carolina last year, I've always wanted to get the N&O delivered to my house at least three days a week. The Charlotte N&O? I'm not quite as excited about seeing that in my driveway!

UPDATE: Less than a week after this post was made, on Sept. 5, there were some nice changes, which are noted in this post.


  1. Thanks for posting this. It's another example of what I call "Charlotte creep" -- a condition that has been afflicting the N&O for a while now.

    Here are some more examples: