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.

Twenty years later, another edition done

In the beginning, one doesn’t even think about the long run. When you’re fighting every day to survive, there’s no time to look over your shoulder. Slow down long enough to take in what’s in the rearview mirror, and you’re all too likely to get eaten alive by those who would love nothing better than to chew up and spit out the upstart.

Is a ‘responsible media’ a fading memory?

It’s one of those anniversaries most would rather forget: April 20, 1999, the Columbine High School shooting. Two high school seniors murdered 12 fellow students and a teacher, and they shot and injured another 21 people before they committed suicide. They also brought bombs to the school, so the carnage could have been much worse. 

Twenty years later, the tally of school shootings and mass killings continues to mount. That shooting and its aftermath changed this country, but rather than coming together to find ways to reduce random mass shootings we’ve instead become numb, seemingly accepting the reality that they are part of life in 21st century America.

Our job is to earn trust and keep it

A little more than two weeks ago I was part of a public radio panel that was discussing the “state of media in Western North Carolina.” The catalyst for the show was the Gannet corporation’s — owner of USA Today and more than 100 dailies and 1,000 weeklies — nationwide layoff of reporters and editors, including five at the Asheville Citizen-Times. We discussed the importance and relevance of local newspapers and media sites, and how our communities are adapting to the shift away from one or two dominant — and trustworthy — media sources. 

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.

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.

Small-town papers help knit communities together

I’m dedicating my July 4 to the courageous journalists who were murdered last week at the Capital Gazette in Maryland.

Independence Day celebrates our nation’s declaration that it would not abide by the arbitrary decrees from across an ocean by a monarch who feared putting power in the hands of his citizens. With the Declaration of Independence began the formal shaping of this nation and its ideals of freedom that are unlike those in any other country.

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

It’s something that’s been in the back of my mind for a while now. When news broke last week of the shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, that thought now shifted from the back of my mind to the forefront of my thoughts — could it happen to us?

If you’re reading this, then we thank you

In this holiday season, I have much to be thankful for. At least that’s the way I see it, though others may call me crazy for what I consider my blessings.

Skip past this column right now unless you’re OK with a little self-indulgence while I talk about what we do here at The Smoky Mountain News. I mean, it’s an odd business: we gather information from throughout the region — news from various sources and paid advertisements from businesses — package it in print and online, and give it away each week in hopes you’ll read and find what we do relevant, useful and interesting so we can do it again next week.

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