Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Citizen-Times Gets It Right on Haiti, Not So Right on Obama's First Year

The Citizen-Times has been on top of local connections to the disaster in Haiti.  In the January 20 issue was another riveting eyewitness account by Amber Munger, a UNC Asheville graduate who was working in Haiti with an international relief organization before the earthquake hit.  An exemplary way of folding  “citizen journalism” and the power of the Internet into traditional news reporting.

Also exemplary was reporter Mark Vanderhoff’s story on a couple who lived in Black Mountain before going to Haiti as missionaries.  Local human interest connected to a major international story, thoroughly sourced and reported.

Meanwhile, also in the same issue,  “WNC residents sound off on Obama's 1st year”  looked in an online headline like it might be an important A1 enterprise story .  Lots of interviews with officials and politicians of all denominations, interviews with people-on-the-street, maybe a focus group or two, the inevitable quote from UNCA political science professor Bill Sabo, some analysis pulling all these different views together, perhaps a WNC poll showing how Obama is doing in local opinion, maybe a sidebar on how Obama’s programs and policies have directly impacted WNC.

Instead, it turned out to be one of those darn “Staff Reports” that told us very little.  Six tiny no-context quotes from people identified only by place of residence.  Five from Asheville, one from Weaverville.  So much for “WNC” in the headline.  These views could have come in by Twitter.  Maybe they did. 

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