I just heard a rumor that the Paxton Media folks are going to kill The Chapel Hill Herald. If thatâ€™s true, then I guess I can cancel my plans to attend the 20th anniversary of the starting of that paper. I was the first editor of the CHH and I remember the six months leading up to our first issue (on June 6, 1988) as the hardest Iâ€™ve ever worked in my life. A lot of good people worked on that project. Sadly, most of them no longer work at The Herald-Sun.
Last Fall I wrote (“Herald-Sun Editor Robert Ashley gets an earful from CitizenWillâ€¦”) that the Herald-Sun’s online policiy of
“cutting the community off from their historical narrative is not only selfish, it is bad business. Robert disputed my â€œbad businessâ€ assertion, telling me the HS makes plenty from their archival content.”
I challenge Ashley to incorporate and cultivate more community involvement. Instead, as the N&O’s local outlet, the Chapel Hill News improved, the CHH failed to take my challenge and has become less and less relevant to our community’s discourse.
Paxton might’ve been angling to kill off the CHH from the beginning, maybe we’ll find out soon. Running a daily is a daunting task, as Jon recalls from an early meeting:
â€œRemember,â€ I told all the young reporters and copy editors (most of them right out of school or close to it), â€œwhen this starts, it will never end.â€ From the looks on their faces I donâ€™t think they had ever thought of the CHH project in those terms. A daily is, after all, put out DAILY, 365 day a year, no breaks. It scared us all.
In any case, it is a sad day when we lose another venue – even if it has been severely diminished in quality and increasingly biased in content – for local coverage. At least we now have the Carrboro Citizen.
I wish Rob, Emily, Beth, Jamie and the rest of the great reporting staff (who I think have been hobbled in their desire to provide excellent service to our community by Paxton’s policies) good fortune.
May you land on your feet.