My New Year’s resolution is to stay on top of email and post them in a more timely manner here. Here goes the first 2012 edition.
The reporting on the ARMC merger with Cone Health stirred one reader to write to me about the lack of information. Ben Ansbacher was responding to my column in which I posed the same questions.
I was already mulling over writing you about the ARMC press release when I read your piece today. Theirs was a classic example of obfuscation. They chose Cone because “We have common missions, and our cultures are very similar — both organizations value our patients, our employees and our communities.” Translation: we are both hospitals.
I guess they wouldn’t respond to questions about why they took the undescribed action they took and chose the “partner” they chose, but keep after them.
MY TAKE: Shortly after my column and this note we had a sit-down with people from ARMC and talked to Cone Health reps on the telephone. We got a few more answers on this matter but my hunch is that many more will be answered over the next couple of months.
Dave Barry fan
Another reader thanked us for publishing the Dave Barry Gift Guide in our annual special section, Last-Minute Gift Guide.
Thank you, thank you for publishing Dave Barry’s Christmas present story in today’s supplement. i was afraid that he was no longer writing it. i can’t think of anything that makes me laugh. it may be too late to order the dear leader tongue scraper — drat.
MY TAKE: We love the Dave Barry Gift Guide and will publish it as long as he continues to write it and we have the space to run it. Space is a huge part of the equation.
Each year we plan to publish the long Dave Barry humor piece as part of this advertising section. We’re not so fortunate with the annual and equally funny Dave Barry Year in Review. It’s far longer and more difficult to publish under our current page counts.
But I’ll keep my fingers crossed that’ll change.
A balanced approach
Another reader responded to some criticism we took over our news story on the death of longtime political leader Cary Allred. I had a few calls about it, an email and I heard it was a topic of discussion on the radio program Talkline.
Here’s what this reader had to say.
I saw that you were criticized for mentioning the highlights and lowlights of Cary Allred’s life in your coverage of his funeral. I thought your coverage was as it should be. The people who loved him appreciated him for his qualities, that did not change. I don’t think it would have been good journalism to not have mentioned his challenges. In Alamance County we knew him either in person or through the media, your coverage did not change anyone’s opinion. (I have been to funerals and heard eulogies that were so full of praise I wanted to get up and look in the coffin to be sure I was at the right funeral)
MY TAKE: I felt our coverage of Cary Allred’s death was very fair. A person in public life for 30 years deserves a news story that covers the full scope of their lives — good and bad. A controversial figure such as Allred stirred a lot of both. He had good points and not so good ones. It would be a major failure of journalism not to handle both.
While we mentioned Allred’s problems, we did not dwell upon them. We also tried to capture as many of his good qualities as we could. Frankly, though, we had trouble finding people willing to speak about him.
Just before Christmas I received a letter to the Open Forum from a man whose truck has been smashed by a hit-and-run driver while shopping at Alamance Crossing. “Merry Christmas,” right?
After the letter was published he wrote again.
Thanks to the Times-News and Facebook friends for the sympathetic attention regarding the hit and run incident of my truck. Now that I’ve had a proper pity party I’ve had a total catharsis and my Merry Christian Spirit has been restored in time for the Christmas week-end. Merry Christmas!
MY TAKE: I was very happy to hear from Mr. Beard and glad to note that he had reconciled his bad situation in an area parking lot.
But I would like to add that it takes a complete dirtbag to hit someone’s car and then simply drive off. I hate this happened to Mr. Beard.
A good idea
Got a story idea from Ben and Helen Howard, who write to me by email often. Here it goes.
Have received numerous emails in the past concerning the salary, fringe benefits and perks enjoyed by members of congress.
Such things as: (1)They receive a retirement check equal to their full salary for the remainder of their lives. (2) this retirement pension continues to be received by their spouse after the office holder has died. (3) they have exempted themselves from social security (4) they have their own taylor-made medical plan (5) they have exempted themselves from certain laws which all other citizens have to obey (6) they are privy to information involving stocks and bonds and allowed by law to buy and sell stocks and bonds based on this inside information. Etc.
A newspaper article addressing this issue would be interesting and informative for your readership. This information should be public and would result in a better informed citizens.
I have never seen this information laid out publically. Such an article would help put to rest any misinformation out there about this subject. Is all or any of what is out on the internet true?
Would be interesting to know the truth.
MY TAKE: As Mr. Howard notes, this is a complicated matter. I’ll see what we can provide.
Just a vacation
I got this note on Monday from Tom Malone who was wondering about one of our regular editorial page columnists.
What’s happened to Leonard Pitt’s columns? We enjoyed his twice-a-week columns (we have been subscribers to the print edition since moving to Burlington in 2005), and haven’t seen one since December 6. He provided a good balance to Sowell, Stossel and Williams — we hope his column hasn’t been discontinued.
Please let me know.
MY TAKE: We haven’t discontinued Leonard Pitts, although he’s probably our most controversial columnist. Pitts, who is employed at the Miami Herald, usually takes the month of December off for vacation. No columns have moved by him since early December. His next one, though, is scheduled for this week.
Trying to find available columns to publish throughout the holiday is a bear. Lots of people take vacation right around Christmas or the New Year.
And I got this Monday from a reader not too pleased about the first baby born in the New Year here in Alamance County. We annually profile the first baby of any year and have for decades.
Here’s what Kathy Williams wrote to publisher Paul Mauney.
Perhaps the headline should have read “another welfare baby, Alamance County!” I am appalled to read that you are celebrating teen pregnancy, by publishing an article about the first baby of 2012, born to a teen mom. I really don’t think teen pregnancy need be celebrated. I’m sure the Burlington Police Department are glad to read this story though, as they can now charge the father with statutory rape, as he is 19 and the mother is only 16. Really Times News??? Maybe some more judgment should be in place for certain stories.
MY TAKE: We don’t select the first baby born in any year. It’s about as random is anything we report might be. Often, the first baby is a reflection of the times in which we live. It’s not our place to withhold it.
We won’t pick and choose in this area. The first baby, is the first baby — no matter what.
The other option would be to discontinue the stories we do each year. Perhaps that’s worth considering.