Asheville Citizen-Times reporters call bullshit on Carolina Public Press investigative reporting claim

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

carolina_public_press_2015_videoAsheville Citizen-Times reporters present and past are calling bullshit on a Carolina Public Press video claim that there’s been a lack of investigative journalism in Western North Carolina until CPP came along. The reporters, including current newspaper reporter John Boyle and former Citizen-Times investigative reporter Quintin Ellison, are calling for a retraction and an apology from CPP founder Angie Newsome, a former C-T reporter herself.

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:

Until now.

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.

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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  1. Unaffiliated Voter July 24, 2015

    I’ve challenged several ‘journalists’ (formerly known as REPORTERS!) to engage in more INVESTIGATIVE reporting and have given them subjects and nothing but crickets…

    WHY doesn’t some ‘journalist’ corner AVL lawyer Larry Leake, former chairman of the SBOE, and question him about the shambles he left at the SBOE after 16 years as Chairman? GREAT STORY but apparantly no one can lasso the slithering Mr. Leake, democrat of Madison Co.

    MtnXpress should not even TRY investigative journalism for they are lamea** as it is…pitiful.

  2. Richard Parker July 24, 2015

    Methinks (they) doth protest too much. Surprisingly unprofessional responses. Take your lumps; it’s part of the biz. Wouldn’t a better rejoinder be a list or examples of “investigative reporting” the ACT has done? Perhaps that has been provided elsewhere, but these public tantrums are foolish and ill-advised.

  3. Nicholas Scull July 24, 2015

    Asheville Citizen-Times—the 60 second newspaper. If it takes longer to read it must be the Sunday edition.

  4. luther blissett July 24, 2015

    Answer Man (and Woman) is not exactly hard-hitting investigative journalism, though I’m sure it drives most of the paper’s web traffic.

    That said, the C-T has done some decent work in recent months: the pieces on housing and the job market; the series on Mission that was only 30% regurgitated PR and genuflecting to Ron Paulus. It still pulls its punches, but that’s probably inevitable given the relative power of the C-T and its major advertisers.

  5. Vince July 24, 2015

    I thought the AC-T had an ongoing investigative series on whether Golden Corral was coming to Asheville?

  6. Mike July 24, 2015

    It’s a fundraising advertisement. Just like any/all advertisement its not 100% accurate, or truly meant to be. Take it with a grain of salt and move on. It’s like McDonalds getting mad at Burger king because their ad says they have the ‘Best’ Hamburgers in town.

    Stupid is as stupid does. This is stupid. Move on.

    1. Barry Summers July 24, 2015

      Here’s some investigatory journalism: Did you know that that expression originated as “Handsome is as handsome does”? It goes back to the mid-1800’s. It only got turned into the other by Forrest Gump.

    2. White Lightnin' July 24, 2015

      Normally I would agree with you in regards to advertising and ethics, but this preachy advertising is centered around how ethical and truth seeking their organization is and how they should be worthy of your money, so they asked for the ensuing debate.

      The tactics on display here directly contradict and negate their message, and hence, place the target squarely on the mind and body of CCP.

      Also, if it’s so “stupid,” why bother giving it your time and energy?

      I say their arrogance was to petulantly gain attention and they rightly deserve any and all negative connotations for such a bold and unadvisable (nay “stupid”) cry for help.

      Their silence in the debate speaks volumes. The “key” for Angie and her minions from here on out should be to play nice or at least not adversarial with others who have been in the same sandbox for so much longer than their little nonprofit group of pundits who are screaming “Look at me and give me money.”

      Again, boom. Mic drop.


      PS- I wish they would stop sending me letters begging for money via snail mail. The video’s message is beyond desperate and decidedly made me choose to never give them a freaking dime in the future.

  7. Barry Summers July 23, 2015

    Really though, this isn’t fair. Just a few days ago, AC-T did that great piece of investigative journalism, “What Rep. Chuck McGrady Did On His Summer Vacation”.

    I wish I was kidding.

  8. Josh July 23, 2015

    Newsboy pissing contest! Love it.

  9. Curious July 23, 2015

    Didn’t Cecil Bothwell do some serious investigative reporting on Bobby Medford for Mountain Xpress?

    1. Barry Summers July 23, 2015

      Yes he did. And then they gave him the boot, and haven’t had any serious investigations since, that I know of.

      1. NFB July 24, 2015

        There isn’t any room for investigative reporting what with every issue’s 12,000 food articles and coverage of the latest hipster band stopping in town.

        Priorities, ya know.

        1. White Lightnin' July 24, 2015

          Nice zing to “Asheville Scene.”

          You ever notice the cover image is always a woman, food, or a woman carrying food? The pinnacle was when it was a woman doing yoga in front of a plate of food.

          Guess that’s what passes for entertainment coverage these days. It certainly makes me want to check out the print edition each week to see which story they ripped off from another outlet and/or learn brand new ways to condescend and alienate readers through their Patri-archical story choices.

          (Boom. Boom. Boom)
          Third time is the charm.
          Mic dropped so hard I can’t pick it up again.


      2. Politics Watcher July 25, 2015

        Too bad Mountain X fired Bothwell. If they had kept him on, the city would have been spared having him on city council.

  10. TJ July 23, 2015

    Seems like a good investigative journalist would have gotten a quote from David Hurand or Lydia Carrington instead of just “wondering” what they think and firing off a tainted response dragging them into it and insinuating they wouldn’t approve.

    You know…backing up a statement with facts…investigating…

  11. Quintin Ellison July 23, 2015

    I like the birds chirping parts, Jason. Nice touch. Quintin, reporting from obscurity in the hinterlands …

  12. White Lightnin' July 23, 2015

    I find the whole thing hilarious.

    Maybe some of these current journalists from both sides should spend more of their on the clock hours investigating leads and writing stories than trying to be social media darlings who star in videos about themselves.


    Mic drop.


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