What's this blog really about?

You may notice a variety of topics here - from business, to charity promotion, even to local news, but the primary reason this blog was created was to alert readers to the hostile atmosphere and sexual harassment at The Danville Register & Bee. The readers and creator of this blog want a FULL FRONT PAGE apology in the Danville Register & Bee, plus the disciplining of those individuals involved. Until then, we'll continue to post regular updates. To tolerate THIS kind of behavior by a major media network is intolerable. And this isn't just ONE instance. Media General has been sued nationwide for racism and sexism, yet they CONTINUE to keep the offenders employed. Why? And why am I doing this? TRUTH compels me.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Quick and dirty

Which is more important to you, the reader - knowing who was injured in a car crash or understanding why your utility bills keep going up and what you can expect in terms of increased rates this fall?

How about knowing whether or not the hospital's billing problems were ever straightened out versus a photo of a house fire out in the county?

Ever wonder why no one covers your kids junior varsity games and why women's sports don't get the kind of coverage the men's do? (Hint: all male sports desk is one).

Why aren't education issues covered better? Did anyone notice that Virginia passed an anti-bullying law for schools this year? Were you aware of how many lock-downs, bomb threats and problems there were in Pittsylvania County schools this year? No? Why? Because the paper has a policy of not reporting on bomb threats in order to deter copy-cat threats. But when parents emptied a local school because of threats last year don't you think that should have been news?

The school superintendent keeps just about any kind of news about the school locked up tight - unless it's positive. He prefers to err on the side of privacy and protecting children - which is good. But what happens when there is a problem - like kids who have been suspended or expelled for bringing weapons to school? Should you know about that or are you comfortable just knowing "it was handled"? Were you aware of how many teachers are opposed to the state's SOL tests? Quite a few of them are - and those who say they aren't are keeping their mouths shut so they keep their jobs.

What about the board of supervisors. I personally tape-recorded and wrote about Coy Harville promising the voters prior to the election that he wouldn't move the county offices out of Chatham. Guess what. Election's over, he's not running again and he's talking moving the offices. He may vote no in the official vote - to appear opposed - but I guarantee if he decides the offices should move they will. Will anyone check the land records to see who gets the financial wind-fall - similar to the one Fred Ingram's buddies got last time he was on the board? There was a reason he was voted out and people voted Kate Burger in.

Don't you think it's odd that so many people bought the Gary Bengston committed suicide by shooting himself twice in the back of the head and setting himself and the house on fire story? I didn't. But the Register & Bee did.

The problem with "convergence" - which means The Danville Register & Bee is consolidating resources to "serve the people better" is that there are no resources to serve the people better with. The cameras don't work or work poorly. Many of the staff use their personal cameras or a point-and-click similar to what many readers may own. I've actually seen better equipment in the public's hands than the paper's. When Steve Kaylor told the local Rotary Club a few weeks ago that the paper had given cameras to all its reporters as part of their convergence strategy he neglected to tell everyone Media General fired two of its photographers and was just waiting to lay off the third. They don't care about good photos. They care about saving money.

With only three reporters to cover the entire county - and Danville, there's not much time to spend on in-depth stories that really count. Car wrecks, fires, shootings and stabbings happen every day and are easy and fast ways to fill the pages. But you can go here to get that news as it is posted!! That's where the paper gets it. "Staff reports" means a reporter rewrote the police department's press release and maybe got on the phone to call the office to get a quote. That's not reporting - that's regurgitating. Besides - the police have a lot more helpful information on that site.

Stock holders? Your profits are being eaten up in overtime, lawsuits and lawyers fees. More to come on that later when I have the court documents in hand. I DO have some time to pore over records.

Video capabilities are not bad, but the sound is horrible. They can't afford the $175 microphone they would need to shoot good video. Not in the budget. This is a critical piece of equipment for a newspaper. We're talking "news organization" here. A paper that sends video to its sister television stations you know. It's not a luxury. It's like giving the police revolvers and night sticks instead of tasers.

I'm not painting a bad picture - I'm painting a realistic picture. Your local newspaper is NOT equipped to produce the kinds of news coverage that Danville needs. John Crane, Brenda Erickson and Denice Thibodeau are all excellent reporters and are good, solid writers. But they can't be everywhere and they can't cover it all themselves. The time is ripe for a new, and hopefully better, publication to take off. If you agree - let the owners of The Piedmont Shopper know. .

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