We have started office hours at the Chapel Hill News. On Wednesdays from 2-4 p.m. we are inviting you, the reader, to stop by our office at 1504 E. Franklin St. Suite 101 (behind Walgreens) to talk about anything you like. If people are waiting, we give each person up to 15 minutes.
We have been announcing dates and times for our office hours on our growing social media sites. Last week I posted a quick note that generated a strong response, with 74 likes and many comments, on my Facebook page (send a Friend request for daily local news updates). Here is the post and what some of you said.
Feb. 2: Two people came to office hours this week. One asked if we could distinguish facts from people's opinions when reporting local news. I told her Tammy Grubb works harder than any reporter I know at checking facts but that we could do more hyperlinks to show where information comes from. But then our visitor complained about the same people always commenting on growth and development. I shared with her all the ways we try to get more voices in the paper: read public emails to the town, talk to folks in the areas we are writing about, periodically ask the chamber to recommend people who might like to write, ask to attend meetings to hear talk that doesn't always happen in Town Hall (been turned down on several of those). Ultimately, I said, it is up to people like our visitor to call or email when she thinks we've gotten something wrong or are missing a perspective. Better yet, write a letter, comment on a story online, post here on this page. The more voices the better. I asked her for a few names on local issues we might contact in ongoing coverage. We'll keep doing these office hours. Look for days and times here and on our Twitter accounts @chapelhillnews1 and @thedurhamnews
Suzanne Haff: Full engagement is not easy.
John Paul Womble: You are right to be diligent, intentional and transparent ... if only the leaders in the current Republican Party and administration played by something remotely similar in regards to rules or moral compasses ... the progress would work. Sadly it’s OK to simply put the media, Mexicans, women, Muslims on the defensive by spouting and standing on a pillar of hatred. As Martin Niemoller wrote, “when they came for me there was no one left ...”
James Protzman: I applaud the effort at outreach. Had I been there, I would have encouraged you to devote more space to linking actions in Chapel Hill to the great national debate we're having. The massive divide we are confronting in our nation between authoritarian rule and democratic rule represents a monumental challenge. I believe Chapel Hill has an obligation to lead our nation toward the light, and to uncover where we might find common ground, if any exists.
David Schwartz: “I shared with her all the ways we try to get more voices in the paper.” ... Periodically ask the chamber to recommend people who might like to write ...” Why single out the chamber? There are many other town-wide organizations you might also ask, such as the PTA, the IFC, UNC, CHALT, the Carrboro Business Alliance, etc. The chamber already does a good job of promoting the interests of those who profit from real estate development; let's hear some other voices.
(I replied that this visitor’s opinion was we were already reporting and publishing the views of CHALT members and others opposed to or critical of recent developments.)
Lorenz Hintz: I want to give another shout out to Tammy Grubb for her reporting on local issues. When I ran for Town Council three years ago I noticed she was every where trying to cover all the news. She continues to do a great job. Give her a raise!