Finding our way without a map

The helplessness is the thing that’s making all of us so uneasy. Like being pushed along by a wave that you know is big and that you know could hurt you, but in that second before it crashes it’s too late to do anything but ride it out. 

Smoky Mountain News again recognized for journalistic excellence

It was another good year for community journalism in Western North Carolina, and writers from The Smoky Mountain News were a big part of it, taking home more editorial awards — 21 — than any other newspaper in its class. 

A glut of information can paralyze voters

The phones we carry everywhere contain or have access to more information than the largest libraries in the world, many times more. It’s the same with our laptops, tablets, desktops or whatever digital device one prefers. All the collected knowledge of science, literature, mathematics and the arts that humans have amassed since the dawn of civilization is right there at our fingertips. 

Some call it the death of irony

By Mark Jamison • Guest Columnist | Some have called it the death of irony, the moment when Kenneth Starr, he of special counsel fame, stood in the well of the Senate and bemoaned the possibility that impeachment had become a partisan political tool. Then again, the gaslighting and Eddie Haskell-like pronouncements of cognitive dissonance by folks like Sen. Mitch McConnell have become normalized to the point where many are no longer horrified, just merely curious at what the scriptwriters of this perverse reality show that stands in for American political culture will come up with next. The emperor may have no clothes, but in the valley of the willfully blind who cares to notice?

‘Mountain Murders’ podcast celebrates one year

There’s just something so mysterious about Southern crime stories. Small towns with big characters and dark family secrets. People taking the law into their own hands and crooked cops turning a blind eye. If there’s one thing mountain folk appreciate, it’s a tall tale woven together through the decades.

WCU student working to translate Cherokee language from native newspaper

Constance Owl’s master’s degree thesis is more than a means to a graduate degree in American history. It’s a portal to understanding, and perhaps saving, a disappearing language.

It’s all about the journey

It’s called Blue Ridge Motorcycling Magazine, and it’s become part of our family. Let me explain.

At almost 60 years old — damn, I can’t believe that’s true — odds are I’m beyond the midpoint of my life. That means I couldn’t realistically blame a mid-life crisis around three years ago when I became obsessed with buying a motorcycle. I had owned dirt bikes as a teenager and so knew how to ride. I wasn’t one of those old guys who was starting from scratch, figuring out the gears and the clutch and braking and starting on a hill and all the nuances of counter-steering and leaning into curves. Once upon a time all that was second-nature.

Can you put a value on what we provide?

Does the information we provide each week — information that we have been producing free for the last 20 years — have a value? I am asking that question of all of our readers.

At our inception in June 1999, we were not so unusual in the newspaper world. We decided to give the paper away, our revenue source being the advertisers who wanted to get their message to our readers. That remains a relatively common model in our business, and you can look around the world and around Western North Carolina and find other print media who do the same.

Shining Rock fails to properly notice meeting — again

Taxpayer-funded Shining Rock Classical Academy’s attempt to address its long history of public transparency law violations got off to an inauspicious start when the school failed to provide proper public notice of a Sunday afternoon meeting intended to educate its unelected board – about half of whom actually showed up – on public transparency law. 

Ethically speaking, this can be a tough job

Remember those old movies where submarines find themselves navigating through an underwater minefield, sometimes relying on skill to avoid what would be a sure death and other times surviving near misses on luck alone?

That’s what it feels like sometimes in the world of journalism as we try to make the right ethical choices. It seems almost every day we are discussing the right way to cover a story or whether some event should even be reported. Sometimes these issues are discussed at length, other times reporters and editors have to rely on gut instincts and past experience.

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At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

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