We stand by our brand of journalism

It’s rare when one newspaper questions the integrity of another paper and the intentions of a hard-working journalist whose entire career personifies honesty and ethical decision-making. So we were surprised and a bit taken aback after we read Editor Robert Jumper’s column in last week’s Cherokee One Feather in which he referenced an article in The Smoky Mountain News. For that reason, I felt compelled to respond.

Teachers just don’t get enough credit

Summer is ending and schools are opening. It’s the time year when I remember the teachers.

These days, teachers are too often scapegoats for the shortcomings of parents, politicians and society at large. Truth be told, what they do each day in the classroom changes lives and changes the world. 

A festival that all of WNC should embrace

It’s fascinating to watch a cultural arts organization grow up, mature, get a little long-in-the-tooth, and then re-define itself to adjust to a changing world. That’s exactly what is happening with Folkmoot, which is now in its 36th year in Western North Carolina.

And what about that mission statement above. In these times when politicized culture wars and presidential twitter tantrums divide us, here is an arts organization whose very existence is based on trying to build bridges and foster international understanding. Folkmoot avoids politics, but now more than ever its mission is relevant and necessary.

Let’s encourage young adults to engage

Many readers know or suspect that Hannah McLeod, who has been publishing columns semi-regularly in The Smoky Mountain News since mid-2018 after graduating from Appalachian State University, is related to me. She’s my daughter.

Hannah is smart, well-read and stays informed on happenings in our country and abroad. She can discuss literature or poetry, current events, music, movies, pop culture, geography, history, and is fluent in Spanish. She took her college classes seriously and managed to earn two undergraduate degrees. 

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.

Memorial Day is more than flags and speeches

My wife, Lori, and I recently attended the wedding of my nephew in Fayetteville. While there, we wandered around downtown for a couple of meals and I was reminded of how the city’s affiliation with the monster military machine of Ft. Bragg defines this Southern town.

Fort Bragg is the largest U.S. Army base by population, with more than 52,000 active duty soldiers. The base also has more than 12,000 reservists, almost 9,000 civilian employees and 63,000 active duty family members. Throw in almost 100,000 retirees and their family members, and you begin to get the scope of the military’s impact. All told, the census bureau pegs the metropolitan area’s population at about 375,000.

When will the school shootings end?

“But for the grace of God, it could have been my child.”

News of college and school shootings cut straight to the heart of all parents, and I really can’t count how many times I’ve silently mouthed those words. Selfish thinking, in part, but I would be a liar if I didn’t admit to owning such sentiments when I first hear of shootings like those at Virginia Tech or Sandy Hook or (insert tragic school shooting here).

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.

It’s the right time for the Nikwasi Initiative

From the outside looking in, the current Nikwasi Mound disagreement in Franklin seems almost contrived. I mean, do serious people truthfully believe that the volunteers who comprise the Nikwasi Initiative and who are seeking ownership of this historic Native site have any intentions other than honorable ones? 

And, as town board member Joe Collins said so succinctly in the Franklin Press, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is a wealthy tribe. Tribal leaders and the Cherokee Preservation Foundation have millions of dollars to invest in preserving Cherokee culture. Turning the mound over to this initiative would do a lot to attract funding, subsequently turning the mound into a significant cultural attraction rather than just an afterthought for a town that has many important issues affecting its taxpayers.

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. 

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