This must be the place: Don’t shoot the messenger

Right around this time of year, journalists from across the state gather at the North Carolina Press Association awards ceremony in Raleigh. It’s a chance for all of us “in the trenches” to catch up, compare notes, and simply take a moment to reflect on another year in the books.

Bringing the word to the people: Frank Stasio of ‘The State of Things’

In terms of journalism and media in North Carolina, very few names are as recognizable as that of Frank Stasio. Host of the WUNC (North Carolina Public Radio) weekday program “The State of Things” (based out of the American Tobacco Historic District in Durham), Stasio and his platform have become a beacon of light for politics, culture, history and societal dialogue across the Tar Heel State. 

Columns and newspapers can change views

By John Hood • Guest Columnist

I have written a syndicated column on politics and public policy for North Carolina newspapers since 1986. Have I influenced how readers think about the issues I discuss? I certainly hope so, at least to some extent.

But there are plenty of smart people, scholars of public opinion and political behavior, who question whether editorials, columns, and op-eds matter. Some argue that political attitudes are so deeply felt, so bound up with partisan affiliation and personal experience, that they rarely change in response to what people read. This is especially true, the argument goes, for the political insiders who wield a disproportionate influence on policy outcomes.

The inherent flaw of a rush to judgment

His is the face that provoked untold millions of posts on social media, the teenage boy from Kentucky face-to-face with an aging Native American man playing a drum, the two of them surrounded by a group of shouting boys, many of them in those red “Make America Great Again” hats.

We see the boy smiling. Is that a smug smirk, or the smile of a boy who has no idea how to react to what is happening in this moment? What does it “mean,” what does it “say?” The imagery itself is so fraught that it is all but impossible to view the photograph without experiencing waves of emotion, immediate and visceral, but also deeply embedded in a painful and resonant history.

Serving ‘something larger than themselves’

“Stray from the truth, and whoever corrects you can be dismissed as ‘the other side.’ The strategy runs on a dangerous assumption — that we’re not all in this together.”

— Time magazine’s 2018 Person of the Year article

When it was reported that Time magazine had named the “guardians” as their person of the year, I have to admit to the sin of pride.

The guardians it was referring to were reporters and journalists, those with media outlets large and small who toil daily to inform on important and fundamental issues so that we might be better citizens.

2018: A look back

Before we ring in the New Year, The Smoky Mountain News likes to look back and reflect on the last year of news.

The headlines that have graced our pages in 2018 have had an important impact on the people of Western North Carolina, and our staff has taken its job of reporting and analyzing those issues seriously.

Cherokee strengthens free press law

Free press law in Cherokee got a little more free following Tribal Council’s passage of amendments to the tribe’s Free Press Act Sept. 6, but there’s still work to do, said Cherokee One Feather Editor Robert Jumper. 

Americans know better, even if Trump doesn’t

We native-born Americans — most of us, anyway — have no real concept of life under a despot except from what we read. We have been raised on a daily diet of liberty and cut our teeth on the right to free speech. Because of that, it’s not surprising that our appreciation for these cornerstones of our democratic and civil society may sometimes dull. 

That’s why Donald Trump’s continued attacks on the press as the enemy of the people should be treated by all as an assault on core American values. No one thinks Trump will ever become a maniacal totalitarian, but knowingly or unknowingly he’s using their tactics in ways that could damage what most of us hold dear. That’s more than just a little troubling.

From performer to PR: Dutch dancer does digital

Now in its 35th year, the Folkmoot Festival has been around 11 years longer than Maarten Krijger has been alive, but it doesn’t take 35 years of experience with the annual event to understand what has to happen in the next 35. 

Covering the rural jail crisis

Many rural county jail populations are growing at a higher rate than urban county jails or even state prisons, according to research done by the Center on Sentencing and Corrections at the Vera Institute of Justice.

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