A video for the nonprofit Carolina Public Press starts off with a scenic view of the Western North Carolina mountains and the sounds of birds chirping. The following statement appears:
Western North Carolina comprises one-third of the state. It is home to more than 1.4 million people.
More blue mountains. More birds chirping:
But there has been no serious investigative journalism covering the issues faces WNC. None.
More mountains. More birds. Then the kicker:
In posts to Carolina Public Press’ page on Facebook, an indignant Boyle writes:
You have done one or two quality investigations over several years, but by and large, you have not added much to WNC’s journalistic world. … For someone criticizing other media outlets about their lack of investigations, you don’t seem to have a firm grasp yourself of what investigative journalism is.
Boyle goes on to say that “for the most part you are not conducting investigations or even interesting in-depth journalism. Perhaps that’s why you continually struggle for funding. I rarely even check your site anymore because I find it has very little value. That’s the truth.”
Quintin Ellison, a reporter now for the Sylva Herald newspaper in Jackson County, dishes out an equal dose of outrage:
More directly, any reporter who flatly states there has been no investigative journalism in Western North Carolina — “none” — has done a piss-poor job of stating the facts. If this were an article it would merit a correction and retraction. …
I also believe it fact that Carolina Public Press is mainly producing enterprise or project reporting — data placed into context. That’s nice and all, but I wouldn’t call it in-the-trenches, changing-the-world investigative journalism. Sent anyone to jail lately? Triggered any state investigations? How about federal investigations into government corruption?
Current (and former) Citizen-Times investigative reporter Tonya Maxwell whips out the investigative reporter playbook and goes digging, while also pulling in former Citizen-Times editor Lydia Carrington and current WCQS public radio news director David Hurand:
Given your adversarial stance, I would appreciate it if you would take my story off your Regional Buzz section Angie Newsome. I wonder if your board members – I believe they include David Hurand and Lydia Carrington – condone this intro. I wonder if any foundations that fund you are aware of this lack of civility. It appears your 990s do not appear on Guidestar though, so your independent funding is a mystery.
Former Citizen-Times grand dame Barbara Blake exclaims:
“There has been no serious investigative journalism covering the issues affecting WNC. None. Until now.” What a fantastically arrogant introduction to a fundraising video.
Current Citizen-Times wordsmith Dale Neal boils it all down:
Shilling for their own self-righteousness. Bad form.
So far, no reply from Newsome.
Carolina Public Press launched in 2011, and I wrote about it when I worked at the Citizen-Times, where I toiled alongside Angie. I thought the newspaper and CPP had some sort of cooperative agreement in place in recent years, because the newspaper has printed CPP-reported stories. Guess that’s not the case, or may not be for long.