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Saturday, September 22, 2018

The News & Record has banned me from leaving comments

Okay, to be fair, there has not been any formal notification of exile.  But having attempted to make comments with five different browsers and automatically being directed to a Facebook "blue screen of banishment" with each one, it's safe to say at this point that I am now persona non grata from adding to reader commentary on the News & Record website.  It was discovered two days ago and no correspondence has been returned from their staff about it so, looks like I've been dispatched to the hinterlands... or at least those where Greensboro, North Carolina's "newspaper of record" is concerned.

As for why the banning has taken place: if it was in violation of terms of service, I can't find a single example.  And I went back through the past few months, from around late spring when I began leaving comments on their published letters, editorials, and some published articles.  Not once was I rude or condescending or suggesting that any other commentator was being an idiot or imbecilic.  I strived for both respect and also intelligent conversation to move discussion forward, instead of promoting one ideology or another.  The image at the right is a screengrab of a typical exchange, involving a former News & Record editor and myself.  If anyone spots any inconformity with the rules of polite society, I would appreciate understanding how.

More likely though, it is nothing more or less than the News & Record editorial staff exercising censorship against those expressing opinion contrary to a leftist bias that grows more apparent with each passing day.  And other commenters have suggested much the same.  In the words of one:
"They also check our FB pages out. I like your thoughtful comments on N&R. I have been attacked by a few on the left but I try not to be snarky. They love to censor anyone who might be right leaning."
I have to concur. It also goes a long way in explaining why there seems to be a 10 to 1 ratio of anti-Trump letters published compared to any conveying anything positive about the man. Given that the vast majority of the News & Record's eleven-county coverage area went solid red for Donald Trump in the 2016 election, the remarkable proportion of letters condemning the man (often on the most ridiculous of grounds) is suspect.

As for what I plan to do so far as the News & Record - the newspaper that I began my writing career with by way of all those letters and occasional op-ed piece and religious articles of mine that they began publishing just before my senior year of high school began - is concerned, there is no doubt at all.  I will do nothing apart from this blog post.  I'm not even in the Greensboro area anymore, but just "peeking in" every so often to see how transpires events there.

Mostly however, it's because the News & Record as a newspaper is dying.  It's been bleeding away readers in recent years like a sliced-open artery.  Advertisers are fleeing, and the Sunday classified ads are no longer the small volumes of separate section.  A few years ago the page width of the newspaper editions was slashed drastically.  Staff has been let go.  There is talk of shuttering the once-imposing News & Record headquarters in downtown Greensboro.

None of these are indicators of a healthy and vibrant newspaper enterprise.  Not even charging money after ten free articles a month on their website is going to prop up this failing business.  Maybe outside (read as: "foreign", parse that as one may) interests might subsidize the News & Record, but the days of being supported by its own community are numbered.

This is what happens when a daily news publication pitches itself as "the journal of record" for an area - an assumption that demands total dedication to impartiality - and instead becomes a propaganda broadsheet.  In the case of the News & Record it has turned into a progressive outlet to the far left of old-school Pravda.  It is, not to put too fine a point on it, NOT an unbiased and impartial news outlet.  It can no longer be trusted and if it ever could, those days are fast receding in the rear-view mirror.

(Incidentally, when I was traveling on a meandering journey across America recently, I visited the offices of many small-town newspapers and not a one of them wasn't thriving.  Why were they so strong?  Because they committed themselves to news, and with keeping themselves above any social or political agenda.  But political agenda is all that the News & Record is motivated by now, apparently.  Being snide and condescending and sophomoric and insulting the readers only goes so far before there is blowback.)

So, why should I be upset that I've been banned from making comments on the website of such a newspaper?  The News & Record is going to be dead in a few years anyway.  All that will remain are microfiche and piled-up copies in the dusty storerooms of the Greensboro Public Library and at UNC-Greensboro.  And an empty edifice in the downtown of one of the largest cities in North Carolina.  Grim, mute relics of a newspaper that was once acclaimed, respectable, and trusted.

That, and lots of unemployed reporters and editors and managers.


Thomasm said...

N&R is the worst paper in state of North Carolina and one of worst in country. But they're right on top of the best of local news. Like giving top billing to the Greensboro Pride Festival. Bring the children to a celebration of the best of buggery!

They are not a newspaper. They are a liberal propaganda factory. And the "former editor" in your screen capture is the same N&R editor who let Ethan Feinsilver destroy an innocent man's reputation and then his own life. Read Jerry Bledsoe's Death by Journalism if you haven't already.

Chris Knight said...

Death By Journalism should be - it won't be but it SHOULD be - required reading in mandatory classes about ethics for every college student majoring in journalism.

What the News & Record did to Jack Perdue was unforgivable.