Is the N&R’s ignorance willful or has it just given up?

GREENSBORO, NC — It is a tired old refrain now: how bad our local daily newspaper has become. The response to its decay by the the editor and publisher (two former sports writers) is clearly not to try better journalism, but a pathetic sort of timid coddling where anything that could put local matters in a bad light is tailored to avoid controversy. Maybe its not intentional, maybe everybody at the N&R is just too tired and dispirited to care any more.

Either way, recent examples abound:

  • Failure to report that a city council person accepted a campaign contribution from a United Healhtcare lobbyist on the day that the council person intervened to steer the City’s health care contract away from a competitor and to United Healthcare;
  • Corporate propaganda previously published elsewhere, under others’ names, wrongly passed off on the letters page as an original by two local plant managers.
  • The atrociously one-sided and completely uncritical puff piece on the Thirteenth Congressional district congressman Ted Budd (Which solicited this, from Ed Cone: “In all fairness, the article also quotes Budd’s lifelong friend and political backer. That’s how we learn that ‘Ted Budd has authenticity out the wazoo.’ Unconfirmed, but I hear his dog really likes him, too.”)

And today, “Our Opinion: Water quality failure” in which the N&R tells us how bad it is that the state legislature is not getting the job done of cleaning up Jordan Lake outside of Raleigh. The editorial specifically mentions the pollution of perfluorinated compounds in the lake. But when the writers turn their attention to the quality of water flowing into the lake from upstream Greensboro, they mysteriously fail to mention the presence of the same chemicals in Greensboro’s water:

“The largest city upstream from Jordan Lake, which is fed by the Haw River, is Greensboro. The regulations would impose heavy costs on Greensboro for waste-water treatment and in terms of limitations on development near streams. While Greensboro already buffers lakes and streams and meets water-treatment standards, Jordan Lake still isn’t getting cleaner”
The News & Record

As Fox8 reported in July of 2017, the lakes that make up Greensboro’s water supply are also contaminated with perfluorinated compounds.

“During the past three years, scientists have found water from Greensboro’s Mitchell Water Treatment Plant with relatively high levels of an industrial chemical known as PFOS — short for perfluorooctane sulfonate — which is suspected of causing human health problems and damage to developing fetuses when consumed over time in large enough doses.”

The News & Record cannot have it both ways. A pollutant in downstream Jordan Lake cannot be a concern when it comes to attacking the state legislature while the same upstream pollutant is not even worth mentioning when it comes to defending Greensboro. That is intellectually dishonest. Or ignorant.

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