Opinion: Daily Journal

A Newspaper’s Deafening Silence

RALEIGH – On Monday, the Locke Foundation hosted author Jerry Bledsoe in Raleigh to talk about his new book Death by Journalism? One Teacher’s Fateful Encounter with Political Correctness. The book delves deeply into a controversy several years ago in which a reporter from the Greensboro News & Record reporter falsely reported on a course on the Civil War at a community college based in Asheboro.

If you’d like more details about what Bledsoe said, check out Paul Chesser’s story on Tuesday’s Carolina Journal Online. It will give you a pretty good overview of Bledsoe’s charges against the News & Record, where he used to work as a reporter and columnist. Also, I’m going to review the book shortly, and we’ll post the review in our “Carolina Critic” section here at CJ.com.

But today I just wanted to note that since Bledsoe’s book came out a couple of months ago, North Carolina’s third-largest newspaper has had nothing substantive to say. The News & Record has not reviewed the book. It has not written a news story, or run an editorial that refutes Bledsoe point-by-point. The only utterance came from one of the newspaper’s executives, who said that Bledsoe was a disgruntled former employee.

I find this situation infuriating. If the News & Record had published an expose of the wrongdoings of any local institution and had been refused any comment by the institution on the substance of the charges, if the only response the newspaper received was invective aimed at impugning the paper’s integrity, I suspect that the News & Record and other major media organizations in the state would be up in arms. They wouldn’t let it go at that. They wouldn’t take “no comment” for an answer.

So why should the News & Record’s professional colleagues in North Carolina let the newspaper get away with a similar stonewall job? If the newspaper’s readers are to take the newspaper seriously in the future, I assume it will have to offer a defense of its reporting at some point – or a retraction. Delaying such a reckoning with its readers will only weaken the News & Record’s credibility further. Its silence, and that of much of the rest of the news media, is deafening.