GREENSBORO, NC -- Jeff Martin has a post about the News & Record's website fiasco. He says they owe us an explanation. I say, we'll never get it. There has been a virtual blackout on any commentary by them on this matter so far except for one "thanks very much for your patience" blog post from editor Jeff Gauger. For at least the past seven years, the News & Record has never demonstrated a willingness to explain itself to our community that I can recall.
If ever such an explanation were warranted, it would have come from events surrounding the unjustified firing of former Greensboro Police chief David Wray when the slow but inevitable revelation of facts was found to contradict, in great measure, the reporting on the topic by the News & Record.
The paper never explained how it got things so wrong or, most importantly, never followed up with news stories to correct the record. The N&R's editorial pages, that had demanded we get to the bottom of the affair, grew quiet when the bottom came into focus and reflected poorly on the News & Record.
If something like the Wray fray did not inspire the News & Record to make amends with the community, their website fiasco won't either. And it's time for that to end. Management's disdain has reached the point of causing real harm
As much as I think Jeff has a point, as much as I think the community is owed an explanation of not only what happened but of how the N&R is going to avoid letting us down so harshly in the future, those expectations are secondary to what is owed to the reporters and columnists of the N&R.
Their work, the entirety of their careers in some cases, has been wiped from public view by the News & Record's web fiasco — or "stumble," as editor Jeff Gauger called it. That's right, all of the previously online articles, columns and comment threads written and inspired by N&R staff have disappeared from the web. Search "Joe Killian County Commissioners" and results for anything older than a day or two are broken links. It's the same for everyone. Doug Clark? Gone. Travis Fain? A ghost. Amanda Lehmert? Erased.
If you are a journalist in the twenty-first century, your body of work is what is on the internet. What you have backed up on your computer doesn't count. It is what search engines can find that matters. The News & Record just wiped these people's professional reputations from the face of the Earth for all practical purposes. That's not a stumble, it's malpractice.
I don't know how much longer the rank and file there will put up with the management that allowed this to happen. As I wrote at Jeff's blog, they should stage a walkout and demand that the owners provide them with some leadership worthy of their dedication.
I don't doubt that the community would support them, as we too deserve better. Think about this, it's not just those poor people who have been shat upon, vast swaths of Greensboro's story — our history — are gone too. Greensboro has been made podunk by the sociopathy of a few individuals too narcissistic to see that their incompetence is harming people and the community they purport to serve and, dammit, we all deserve a hell of a lot better.